<
>

Italy, France advance in Davis Cup play; Kazakhstan, Croatia lead

PESARO, Italy -- Italy eased into the Davis Cup quarterfinals on Saturday with an insurmountable 3-0 lead against Switzerland after Simone Bolelli and Andreas Seppi beat Marco Chiudinelli and Henri Laaksonen in straight sets.

The duo won 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 in less than two hours on the indoor clay court to help Italy reach its third quarterfinal in four years and preserve its seven-year unbeaten home record.

"We had a solid doubles match with few errors,'' Seppi said. "We have been doing well in the past few years and now we are looking to go further ahead."

Italy next plays Poland or Argentina, which leads 2-1 in Gdansk.

Potential debutant Marco Cecchinato was originally named to partner with Bolelli but after watching his team fight for a 2-0 lead on a grueling opening day, Italy captain Corrado Barazzutti opted for the in-form pairing which won a tournament in Dubai only a week ago.

"This is a strong team with a group of players who know how to play on all surfaces," Barazzutti said. "And at home, on clay, we can annoy anyone."

Swiss pair Chiudinelli and Laaksonen played nearly eight hours of tennis between them on Friday, and it showed as the doubles went on.

"We played a great doubles match, we were solid right from the start, maybe they were a bit tired after Friday's two singles," Bolelli said. "They were two tough days but we are really happy."

Italy secured the first break of the match in the sixth game of the opening set, as Laaksonen double-faulted and then sent a forehand long.

The Swiss hadn't looked remotely threatening and it got worse for them in a one-sided second set, in which Italy secured three breaks of serve -- one off Laaksonen's delivery, two from Chiudinelli's.

Italy won seven games in a row and broke in the sixth game of the third set. The crucial break came with a bit of fortune from a Bolelli netcord.

Bolelli saved a break point with an ace in the following game, then a Seppi smash sealed the win on the second of three match points.

In other Davis Cup matches:

* Kazakhstan 2, Serbia 1: Andrey Golubev and Aleksandr Nedovyesov staked visiting Kazakhstan to a 2-1 lead after beating Serbia's Novak Djokovic and Nenad Zimonjic 6-3, 7-6 (3), 7-5 in doubles.

Golubev and Nedovyesov dominated, serving strongly and allowing the Serbs little space to fight back despite the presence of top-ranked Djokovic and the home crowd in Belgrade, Serbia.

Djokovic and Zimonjic started well, breaking early in the first set, but Golubev and Nedovyesov then won four games in a row to wrap up the set. Djokovic and Zimonjic upped their game in the second set but their opponents didn't flinch.

Golubev and Nedovyesov kept it up to the finish as their opponents failed to exploit a couple of break chances.

Djokovic admitted he lacked practice as a doubles player. But he added that "tomorrow is a new day and I am sure I will play better in the singles.''

"It is not the first time that we are behind, it was so in the semifinals and finals when we won the trophy'' in 2010, Djokovic said. "We know how to prepare and we have many reasons to believe we can turn this around."

Serbia coach Bogdan Obradovic said "they fought very hard but the luck factor also played a role."

Obradovic added that "we have been in situations like this in the past, we must now concentrate on the remaining singles matches."

Djokovic, who overcame eye infections to play, will face Mikhail Kukushkin in reverse singles on Sunday while Viktor Troicki will play against Nedovyesov.

* Croatia 2, Belgium 1: Croatia needed only one more point to reach the Davis Cup quarterfinals after Ivan Dodig and Franko Skugor won the doubles against Belgium's Ruben Bemelmans and David Goffin in Liege, Belgium.

After a tense first set, Dodig and Skugor broke their opponents four times and prevailed 7-6 (5), 6-3, 6-1 to give Croatia a 2-1 lead ahead of Sunday's reverse singles.

In the opening singles on Friday, Goffin defeated Borna Coric in five sets on the clay court of the Country Hall, and 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic eased past Kimmer Coppejans in straight sets.

The Belgian pair led 5-4 in the tiebreaker but the Croats held on serve and converted their first set point when Bemelmans went long. Dodig and Skugor then converted the second of three set points in the second set after another unforced error from Bemelmans, and easily won the 22-minute final set.

Dodig, who won the French Open doubles title last year with Marcelo Melo, said winning the difficult first set was "one of the keys," adding that "it helped us stay in the match, then we were able to raise our game."

On Sunday, Goffin will play Cilic, and Coppejans will face Coric.

* France 2, Canada 0:

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Richard Gasquet sent France into the quarterfinals of the Davis Cup with a straight-sets victory in the doubles match of their first-round tie with Canada on Saturday.

Tsonga and Gasquet defeated Philip Bester and Vasek Pospisil 7-6 (4), 6-1, 7-6 (4) to give the hosts an unsurmountable 3-0 lead on the outdoor clay court of the Velodrome Amedee Detraux.

While France fielded its strongest team, also featuring Gael Monfils and Gilles Simon, Canada traveled to Guadeloupe without its best player Milos Raonic -- out because of an adductor injury -- and doubles specialist Daniel Nestor.

Bester played cup doubles for the first time.

In very hot and sunny conditions, Tsonga and Gasquet struggled to find their rhythm and saved four set points in the ninth game on Tsonga's serve. A backhand pass from Gasquet gave the French a 5-3 lead in the tiebreak and Tsonga sealed it with a service winner.

The French duo claimed the second set in 27 minutes, then controlled the final tiebreak.

The French won a tie without dropping a set for the first time in 13 years, after Simon and Monfils, whose father comes from Guadeloupe, won their opening singles in straight sets on Friday.

The nine-time Davis Cup champion will either face Czech Republic or Germany in the quarterfinals in July. The Czechs led 2-1 in Hannover.

"We are going to have a tough second round but if my team is in good shape, if we are ready mentally, we should win, regardless of who we play," France captain Yannick Noah said. "With all due respect to all the other teams, we have the quality to win the whole thing.''

France was playing in the French Caribbean islands for the first time after Noah convinced the French federation to stage the contest away from the mainland.

Noah, who replaced Arnaud Clement following a disappointing 2015 campaign, is captain for the third time after guiding France to Davis Cup titles in 1991 and 1996. He also led France to its maiden victory in the Fed Cup in 1997.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.