Tokyo: The Czech Republic wasted little time wrapping up their Davis Cup quarter-final tie against Japan after the defending champions eased to a straight-set victory in the doubles rubber on Saturday to take an unassailable 3-0 lead in Tokyo.
After battling to singles wins on Friday, Radek Stepanek and Lukas Rosol paired up for a 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Tatsuma Ito and Yasutaka Uchiyama at the Ariake Coliseum to reach the semi-finals.
In a match that lasted two hours and 20 minutes, the Czech pairing won all three sets with a break of serve in the 10th game against the error-prone Japanese to remain on course for a third straight Davis Cup title and fourth overall.
Rosol was brought in as a substitute for Jiri Vesely by Czech captain Jaroslav Navratil on Saturday and the move proved inspired with the world No. 40 exhibiting a strong serve and playing especially well from the baseline.
On Friday, former world No. 8 Stepanek, now 47th, came from a set down to beat Ito 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5), 6-1, 7-5 before Rosol survived a mid-match meltdown to overcome 21-year-old Taro Daniel 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 6-2 in the second rubber.
World No. 5 Tomas Berdych is out for the Czechs following two tough tournaments in the United States, while Kei Nishikori is sidelined with a groin problem suffered in a victory over Roger Federer at last week’s Sony Open in Miami. (Reuters)