Serbia sealed their place in the Davis Cup quarter-finals in straightforward fashion on Thursday, brushing France aside to join Spain, Australia, Canada, Russia and Germany in a powerful-looking knockout phase.
Filip Krajinovic’s opening 7-5 7-6 victory over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga effectively guaranteed Serbia their last-eight spot before Novak Djokovic beat Benoit Paire 6-3 6-3 to put them 2-0 ahead in the Group A clash at La Caja Magica.
Djokovic, who inspired his nation to the title in 2010, is now on a 14-match winning streak in Davis Cup singles matches. Germany made sure of their place in the last-eight when veteran Philipp Kohlschreiber beat Chile’s Nicolas Jarry in the opening rubber of their Group C tie. Even a 2-1 defeat for the Germans would mean they qualify in first place ahead of Argentina who were left to sweat on scraping through as one of the best two runners-up.
Britain rested Andy Murray for their deciding clash in Group E against Kazakhstan after his near three-hour singles thriller during his country’s 2-1 win over the Netherlands on Wednesday.
His replacement Kyle Edmund beat Mikhail Kukushkin 6-3 6-3 before Dan Evans lost to youngster Alexander Bublik, who was cheered on by a couple of hundred colorful Kazakh fans equipped with drums and trombones.
The match will be decided by the doubles clash scheduled to be between Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski and the Kazakh pairing of Andrey Golubev and Aleksandr Nedovyesov.
Whichever nation wins that will top the group and face Germany in the quarter-finals.
Later the first quarter-final takes place when an impressive-looking Australia side take on Canada, who have enjoyed the benefit of a rest day.
Thursday’s schedule looks far less complicated than on the previous two days when play has finished in the small hours, attracting criticism about the new Davis Cup format.
The previous night the U.S. and Italy contested what was effectively a dead rubber until 4am.
This is the first edition of 119-year-old Davis Cup since the ITF voted to change from the old year-long World Group featuring home and away ties to an 18-nation showdown in one venue played over a week.