Davis Cup: Serbia, France reach quarterfinals
LONDON (AP) Novak Djokovic shrugged off a sore finger and joined with Nenad Zimonjic in polishing off Croatia to send Serbia into the Davis Cup quarterfinals on Saturday.
The doubles win in straight sets for an unassailable 3-0 lead with a day to spare was matched by France in Frankfurt, where it extended a 62-year winning streak against Germany.
Also, the United States and Czech Republic won five-set doubles to stave off first-round defeat against Britain and Australia respectively.
Zimonjic helped Djokovic win his first Davis Cup doubles in seven years when they put away Marin Draganja and Franko Skugor 6-3, 6-4, 6-1 in Kraljevo without offering a break chance.
''Our ambition is to reach the finals,'' Zimonjic said. That ambition is achievable with No. 1-ranked Djokovic recommitted to Davis Cup this year.
Julien Benneteau and Nicolas Mahut, on debut, moved 2014 runner-up France on by beating Benjamin Becker and Andre Begemann 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 for an eighth consecutive win over Germany.
France will next likely have to travel to Britain, which lost the doubles to the U.S. twins Bob and Mike Bryan, but remained 2-1 up with Andy Murray beginning the reverse singles against John Isner on Sunday in Glasgow. Murray is 3-0 against Isner.
The top-ranked Bryan brothers are virtually good for a point for the U.S., but in extending their record to 23-4 they were made to sweat for 3 1/2 hours by the scratch pairing of Jamie Murray and Dominic Inglot to win 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-7 (8), 9-7. The Bryans didn't get the decisive break in the final set until the 15th game.
The Czechs weren't expected to beat Australia, but kept the tie alive in Ostrava when Jiri Vesely and newcomer Adam Pavlasek twice came from a set down to overcome Lleyton Hewitt and Samuel Groth 1-6, 7-6 (2), 3-6, 7-6 (4), 6-2.
Australia won both singles on Friday, and Bernard Tomic can clinch the tie on Sunday against Lukas Rosol in their first ever meeting.
Australia hasn't passed the first round for nine years, while the Czechs won the title just two years ago, but are under-manned this year.
In Buenos Aires, Brazil took a 2-1 lead over Argentina when Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares, as expected, defeated Diego Schwartzman and Carlos Berlocq 7-5, 6-3, 6-4.
Brazil can advance to the quarterfinals for the first time since 2001 by winning one of Sunday's reverse singles. It hasn't beaten Argentina in 40 years. The winner could host Serbia.
In Liege, Belgium went up 2-1 against defending champion Switzerland after Ruben Bemelmans and Neils Desein rallied to beat Adrien Bossel and Michael Lammer 1-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2.
Belgium will be hoping on Sunday to send out its best player, David Goffin, who has skipped the first two days because of a back injury.
In Astana, Italy's Fabio Fognini and Simone Bolelli defeated the Kazakhstan duo of Andrei Golubev and Alexander Nedovesov 7-6 (4), 6-3, 6-7 (13), 6-4 for a 2-1 lead. Italy has a deeper team, but the Kazakhs are trying to reach the quarterfinals for a third straight year.