REUTERS - Japan sailed into the Davis Cup quarter-finals for the first time with a 4-1 victory over an injury-hit Canada to join holders Czech Republic, Italy and Kazakhstan as Sunday’s other qualifiers.
After Switzerland, Germany and France booked their places in the last eight with a day to spare, Japan began Sunday’s action 2-1 ahead and needing a solitary success in the reverse singles to progress.
They were handed victory when Canada’s Frank Dancevic retired with injury when trailing 6-2 1-0 to Japanese number one Kei Nishikori, surrendering the tie in the country’s first meeting since 1938.
They will host cup holders Czech Republic in the World Group quarter-finals in April after they eased into the next round with a 3-2 win over The Netherlands.
World number seven Tomas Berdych secured the tie with a 6-1 6-4 6-3 win over Thiemo De Bakker before Igor Sijsling beat Lukas Rosol in the dead rubber.
Italy also advanced when Fabio Fognini overcame Argentina’s Carlos Berlocq 7-6(5) 4-6 6-1 6-4 to give them an unassailable 3-1 lead, leaving Andreas Seppi to play out the tie against Juan Monaco.
Italy will face the winners of the United States v Britain tie.
At Tokyo’s Ariake Coliseum, Japan’s Nishikori pocketed the first set in 29 minutes and broke Dancevic in the first game of the second when the world number 119 took an injury timeout but could not continue because of a stomach muscle injury.
“The pressure is always on me to win both singles matches,” said Nishikori, who won his opening match against Peter Polansky on Friday before teaming up with Yasutaka Uchiyama to claim Saturday’s doubles.
”This time I was able to help win three matches.
“The quarter-finals was our goal after getting back in the World Group. To do it in the first year is very rewarding.”
Back in World Group after a one-year absence, Japan now have a perfect 6-0 Davis Cup record against last year’s semi-finalists, who were laid low by a spate of injuries.
Canada’s top-ranked player Milos Raonic withdrew on Thursday with a foot injury he sustained at last month’s Australian Open and world number 25 Vasek Pospisil also missed Saturday’s doubles with an injury he picked up at Melbourne Park.
Kazakhstan secured a tie against Switzerland in the next round with a 3-2 victory over Belgium in Astana.
Belgium’s David Goffin twice came back from a set down to level the tie at 2-2 with a five-set win over Mikhail Kukushkin, before Andrey Golubev claimed the decider 6-2 6-3 6-1 over Ruben Bemelmans.
The other confirmed quarter-final will see France meet Germany.
Additional reporting by Josh Reich and Amlan Chakraborty; Editing by Ed Osmond