LONDON — The Czech Republic became the first team to reach the Davis Cup semifinals Saturday, while heavily favored Switzerland had another disappointing loss in the doubles and France kept alive its quarterfinal against Germany.
The defending champion Czechs clinched an unassailable 3-0 lead over Japan after Radek Stepanek and Lukas Rosol comfortably beat Tatsuma Ito and Yasutaka Uchiyama 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 in the doubles.
That’s the only quarterfinal that has gone according to script so far, as Switzerland and France both find themselves down 2-1 going into the reverse singles on Sunday.
Many expected Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka to have wrapped up Switzerland’s best-of-five series against Kazakhstan by now as well, but the former Olympic doubles champions were beaten 6-4, 7-6 (5), 4-6, 7-6 (6) by Andrey Golubev and Aleksandr Nedovyesov.
That came after Wawrinka lost his singles match to Golubev on Saturday, meaning there’s no more room for mistakes for the heavily favored Swiss.
“I’m actually very excited for tomorrow,” Federer said. “We are still the favorites for each singles match tomorrow, but with no more margin for error and we’re aware of that.”
Germany entered its quarterfinal without its top three players, but Tobias Kamke and Peter Gojowczyk surprisingly won their opening singles matches to give the visitors a 2-0 lead on Friday against France. However, Julien Benneteau and Michael Llodra held their nerve to beat Andre Begemann and Kamke 6-1, 7-6 (5), 4-6, 7-5 to stay in the series.
“We’re still alive. It was a great performance from Julien and Mika. It’s very hard to play when you’re 2-0 down because you have no room for error,” France captain Arnaud Clement said. “They deserve it because they really pushed themselves.”
In Sunday’s matches, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is scheduled to play Kamke, and Benneteau faces Gojowczyk.
Andy Murray was the busiest player of the day as he first had to complete a 6-4, 7-5, 6-3 victory over Italy’s Andreas Seppi in their delayed singles match, before returning to the court to help Britain take a 2-1 lead with a win in the doubles. Murray and Colin Fleming beat Fabio Fognini and Simone Bolelli 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 7-5 to boost Britain’s bid to reach the semifinals for the first time since 1981.
Rain delays had interrupted play in Naples on Friday and Murray’s match was suspended because of darkness in the second set.
Murray can secure the victory when he plays Fognini on Sunday.
“It should be a tough match,” Murray said. “Fabio has played very well this year so it’ll be a great challenge. But I hope I can have a good match and get us to the semis.”