By FOSTER NIUMATA
2014-02-02 06:01 AM
Germany knocked out Spain in the Davis Cup on Saturday and was rewarded with an even bigger hurdle against France in the quarterfinals in April.
Since Germany's last title in 1993, Spain had won the cup five times. But without top-five players Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer, Spain exited in the first round for a second straight year.
Tommy Haas and Philipp Kohlschreiber held their nerve to beat Fernando Verdasco and David Marrero 7-6 (5), 6-7 (9), 7-6 (7), 6-3 in 3 hours, 25 minutes in Frankfurt to give Germany its first win over Spain since 1994.
"We're all happy and already a little bit drunk," said Haas, who made his cup debut in 1998 and was playing only his second tie in seven years.
France will next host the Germans, whom they haven't lost to since 1938.
"We want to go far in the draw, we feel as if we have a good chance," Richard Gasquet said after combining with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to give Lleyton Hewitt and Chris Guccione their first defeat in cup doubles, 5-7, 7-6 (4), 6-2, 7-5.
Gasquet and Tsonga, who also won their singles on Friday, overpowered the Australians 21 aces to four, and 74 winners to 38, to give France an unassailable 3-0 lead and a quarterfinal berth for a fifth straight year.
The only other team to advance was Switzerland, which accounted for an under-strength Serbia in Novi Sad to reach the last eight for the first time in 10 years.
Marco Chiudinelli and Michael Lammer beat Nenad Zimonjic and Filip Krajinovic 7-6 (3), 3-6, 7-6 (2), 6-2 to render Sunday's reverse singles as dead rubbers.
The Davis Cup is the only major title missing from the resume of Roger Federer, who won his singles on Friday.
Serbia, champion in 2010 and runner-up last year, was without Novak Djokovic, Janko Tipsarevic and Viktor Troicki.
Switzerland faces Belgium or Kazakhstan, with the latter failing to clinch in Astana after experienced Belgians Ruben Bemelmans and Olivier Rochus beat the experiment of Mikhail Kukushkin and Evgeny Korolev 6-2, 6-7 (4), 6-3, 7-6 (4) to cut the Kazakhs' lead to 2-1.
Meanwhile, Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek delivered again for the defending champion Czech Republic, improving their doubles record to 15-1 in beating Robin Haase and Jean-Julien Rojer 7-5, 1-6, 7-6 (2), 7-6 (4) for a 2-1 lead over the Netherlands.
"It was the toughest game we have played," Berdych said. "It was extremely hard for us. They were excellent."
Nishikori, playing doubles only after Go Soeda lost the second singles on Friday, can secure the win over the 2013 semifinalist when he faced Dancevic in the first reverse singles on Sunday.
Italy grabbed a 2-1 advantage over Argentina in Mar del Plata after Fabio Fognini and Simone Bolelli defeated Eduardo Schwank and Horacio Zeballos 6-7 (6), 7-6 (8), 7-6 (3), 6-4 in a four-hour match on outdoor clay.
Italy has a chance to beat Argentina for the first time, and end the hosts' 12-year streak of reaching the quarterfinals.
The winner will meet either Britain or the United States, with Britain up 2-0 in San Diego. Andy Murray was rested from the doubles.