Novi Sad: Switzerland took advantage of Novak Djokovic’s absence to open a 2-0 lead over last year’s runners-up Serbia in their Davis Cup tie on Friday with Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka winning their singles rubbers.
Two months after their defeat by Czech Republic in the final, Serbia fielded a second-string team who were quickly put under pressure in their World Group first round clash.
Federer beat 268th-ranked Ilija Bozoljac 6-4, 7-5, 6-2 while Wawrinka, fresh from winning his maiden Grand Slam title at the Australian Open, eased past Dusan Lajovic 6-4, 4-6, 6-1, 7-6(7).
France got off to a flier against Australia with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga beating gutsy veteran Lleyton Hewitt 6-3, 6-2, 7-6(2) after Richard Gasquet outclassed Nick Kyrgios 7-6(3), 6-2, 6-2. The Czechs, who retained the Davis Cup in November, were losing 0-1 to the Netherlands in Ostrava, with Radek Stepanek going down in five sets to Robin Haase.
In Astana, Mikhail Kukushkin and Andrei Golubev gave hosts Kazakhstan a 2-0 advantage against Belgium. Kukushkin beat Ruben Bemelmans 6-4, 6-7 (3/7), 6-2, 6-3 in just over three hours and was followed by Golubev who overcame David Goffin 7-6 (11/9), 3-6, 4-6, 6-2, 12-10 in a four hour 38-minute thriller.
In Frankfurt, Philipp Kohlschreiber gave Germany a winning start over five-time winners Spain with a 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 victory in less than two hours against Roberto Bautista Agut. In Tokyo, Japan are locked 1-1 in their World Group first-round tie against Canada after splitting the opening pair of singles matches. (Agencies)