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Davis Cup first round results

By Chris Pike
3 February 2014 10:43PM EST

AUSTRALIA'S return to the Davis Cup World Group didnít go to plan against a strong France while Great Britain, the Czech Republic, Italy and Switzerland were others to advance to the quarter finals.

As well as Australia's 5-0 loss to France in Vendespace over the weekend, the Czech Republic beat the Netherlands 3-2 in Ostrava, Japan downed Canada 4-1 in Tokyo, Germany beat Spain 4-1 in Frankfurt, Great Britain beat the United States 3-1 in San Diego, Italy downed Argentina 3-1 in Argentina, Kazakhstan defeated Belgium 3-2 in Astana and Switzerland beat Serbia 3-2 in Novi Sad.

Despite being the most successful Davis Cup nation with 28 victories, Australia's last triumph came in 2003 and the last six years has seen it not even be in the main group.

However, they returned in 2014 but were already on the back foot with the withdrawal of Bernard Tomic not to mention having to head to France to play on clay against a team featuring world No. 9 Richard Gasquet, the 10th-ranked Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and the No. 30 ranked Gael Monfils.

Gasquet was first up in singles action on Friday against Davis Cup debutant 18-year-old Nick Kyrgios.

Kyrgios was competitive in the first set forcing it to a tie-break, but Gasquet's experience proved too much as he ran out 7-6 (3), 6-2, 6-2 victory.

Lleyton Hewitt was up next for Australia against Tsonga, but it was another straight-sets win for the French with Tsonga prevailing 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 (2).

That left a huge task for the Australians but Hewitt and Chris Guccione started the doubles impressively on Saturday winning the first set and then serving for the second, but Gasquet and Tsonga fought back to win 5-7, 7-6 (4), 6-2, 7-5 even if Gasquet showed he is far from a doubles specialist.

That wrapped up the tie for France and then the reverse singles saw Australia represented by two teenagers with Julien Benneteau beating Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-4, 6-1, and Monfils downing Kyrgios 7-6 (5), 6-4.

The defending Davis Cup champions Czech Republic hosted another World Group new nation, the Netherlands, but didn’t have it all their own way at the Cez Arena in Ostrava.

World No. 46 Robin Haase got things off to a good start for the Dutch beating Czech veteran Radek Stepanek in five sets, 3-6, 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-2, 6-1.

World No. 7 Czech Tomas Berdych, fresh off a semi-final run at the Australian Open, then easily accounted for Igor Sijsling 6-3, 6-3, 6-0 to tie things up at 1-1 apiece after the first day.

The Czechs then went up two rubbers to one when Berdych and Stepanek teamed up to beat Haase and Jean-Julien Rojer 7-5, 1-6, 7-6 (2), 7-6 (4).

Berdych then wrapped up the tie for the Czech Republic winning his second singles match again in straight-sets, 6-1, 6-4, 6-3 against world No. 139 Thiemo de Bakker 6-1, 6-4, 6-3.

Canada's chances of beating Japan in Tokyo took a big hit with world No. 11 Milos Raonic's withdrawal and they never recovered with the home nation winning 4-1 to advance to the quarter finals after spending 2013 in the Asia/Oceania Zone Group 1.

World No. 18 Kei Nishikori started things off on a winning note for Japan beating the 119th-ranked Frank Dancevic in straight-sets, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.

It was tied up after the first day, though, with Frank Dancevic winning the second singles rubber over Go Soeda, 6-4, 7-6 (2), 6-1.

Japan went up 2-1 with a win in the doubles when Nishikori and Yuichi Sugita beating Dancevic and Daniel Nestor 6-3, 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-4.

The Japanese were then handed victory when Dancevic retired hurt against Nishikori in the first reverse singles rubber with the No. 1 from Japan leading 6-2, 1-0.

Germany is another returnee to the World Group in 2014 and has now knocked out five-time champions Spain with a commanding four rubbers to one win over a Spanish team missing Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer.

Germany had some interesting decisions to make on whom to play in the singles with Tommy Haas, Philipp Kohlschreiber and Florian Mayer all inside the world's top 30.

In the end, captain Carsten Arriens went with Kohlschreiber and Mayer, and both won with Kohlschreiber beating Australian Open surprise packet Roberto Bautista Agut 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 and then Mayer downing Feliciano Lopez 7-6 (6), 7-6 (4), 1-6, 5-7, 6-3.

Haas and Kohlschreiber then teamed up in the doubles to beat Fernando Verdasco and David Marrero 7-6 (5), 6-7 (9), 7-6 (7), 6-3.

Things then turned interesting for the Germans when they weren’t able to field a fit player for the first of the reverse singles with Kohlschreiber, Haas and Mayer all injured.

That handed a forfeit victory to Lopez but then Brands gave Germany the 4-1 win with a straight-sets win over Bautista Agut.

An American team minus John Isner then took on the Andy Murray-led Great Britain with the Brits cruising to a three rubbers to one victory in San Diego.

The action began with world No. 6 Murray beating Donald Young 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 before the Brits went up two rubbers to nil when world No. 175 James Ward beat the 49th-ranked Sam Querrey in five 1-6, 7-7 (3), 3-6, 6-4, 6-1.

The USA stayed alive with Bob and Mike Bryan winning the doubles encounter over Colin Fleming and Dominic Inglot, 6-2, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1.

Murray, though, sewed up the win for Great Britain when he beat Querrey in the reverse singles in four sets, 7-6 (5), 6-7 (3), 6-1, 6-3.

Italy also advanced to the quarter finals beating Argentina in hostile territory in Mar del Plata over the weekend with Fabio Fognini spearheading the 3-1 victory.

Argentina started well with world No. 44 Carlos Berlocq beating Andreas Seppi 4-6, 6-0, 6-2, 6-1 but then Fognini got into the action for the Italians.

The world No. 15 beat Juan Monaco 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 and then teamed with Simone Bolelli in the doubles to beat Eduardo Schwank and Horacio Zeballos 6-7 (6), 7-6 (8), 7-6 (3), 6-4.

Fognini then secured the tie for Italy in the reverse singles beating Berlocq in four sets on Sunday, 7-6 (5), 4-6, 6-1, 6-4.

Kazakhstan continues its emergence advancing to the Davis Cup quarter finals for the third time in four years beating Belgium three rubbers to two at home over the weekend.

Kazakhstan started well winning the opening two singles matches with Mikhail Kukushkin beating Ruben Bemelmans 6-4, 6-7 (3), 6-2, 6-3 and then Andrey Golubev downing David Goffin 7-6 (9), 3-6, 4-6, 6-2, 12-10.

Belgium got on the board on Saturday with Bemelmans and Olivier Rochus teaming to win the doubles over Kukushkin and Evgeny Korolev, 6-2, 6-7 (4), 6-3, 7-6 (4).

Things were then tied up at two rubbers apiece when Goffin downed Kukushkin 4-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-0 in the first of the reverse singles to mean it was all up to the final rubber between Golubev and Bemelmans.

And world No. 88 Golubev easily accounted for the 163rd-ranked Bemelmans 6-2, 6-3, 6-1 to send Kazakhstan into the quarter finals.

Switzerland's dream team of Roger Federer and Australian Open champion and new world No. 3 Stanislas Wawrinka then took on last year's finalists Serbia in Novi Sad.

Federer was first up against Serbia's world No. 268 Ilija Bozoljac and easily won 6-4, 7-5, 6-2 before Wawrinka took to the court for the first time since becoming a Grand Slam champion and he beat world No. 102 Dusan Lajovic in four sets, 6-4, 4-6, 6-1, 7-6 (7).

Switzerland then secured the tie with Michael Lammer and Marco Chiudinelli winning the doubles over Filip Krajinovic and Nenad Zimonjic 7-6 (3), 3-6, 7-6 (2), 6-2.

Serbia went on to win both reverse singles encounters with Lajovic beating Lammer 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 and then Krajinovic downed Chiudinelli 6-4, 6-4.

The results mean that now the quarter finals for 2014 will see Japan host the Czech Republic, France host Germany, Italy host Great Britain and Switzerland host Kazakhstan. Those encounters will take place in the first weekend of April.

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