<
>

Spain advances in Davis Cup

Defending champion Spain secured its place in the Davis Cup quarterfinals by winning the doubles against Kazakhstan for a 3-0 lead Saturday.

Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez, partnering for the first time, eased to a 6-2, 6-3, 6-1 victory over Evgeny Korolev and Yuriy Schukin on indoor clay.

The hosts won their 22nd straight tie on home soil and 24th straight on clay. They won without second-ranked Rafael Nadal, who sat out the series.

Spain will play either Austria or Russia in April. Austria leads the series 2-0.

France takes lead

Michael Llodra and Julien Benneteau beat Daniel Nestor of Toronto and Milos Raonic 7-6 (1), 7-6 (2), 6-3 on Saturday to give France a 2-1 lead over Canada..

Before the match, Canadian captain Martin Laurendeau replaced Vasek Pospisil with the hard-hitting Raonic, a winner over Benneteau in the second singles match Friday.

On Sunday in the reverse singles, Raonic will face Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, and Pospisil will play Benneteau. Tsonga beat Pospisil on Friday.

The winner of the best-of-five match will play the United States in the quarterfinals. The visiting United States leads Switzerland 3-0.

Canada is playing its first match at the World Group level in eight years.

Argentina rallies

Argentina's David Nalbandian and Eduardo Schwank rallied from two sets down in doubles against Germany on Saturday, reaching the quarterfinals with a 3-0 lead.

The Argentine pair beat Tommy Haas and Philipp Petzschner 3-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 to clinch the first-round series ahead of reverse singles on Sunday.

Argentina, which finished runner-up to Spain last year, is seeking its first title after losing four finals. Germany won three titles in the days of Boris Becker and Michael Stich.

Russia trims deficit

Russia's Nikolay Davydenko and Mikhail Youzhny won the doubles against Austria to trim the deficit to 2-1 Saturday in the first round.

Davydenko and Youzhny, partners for the first time in Davis Cup, defeated Oliver Marach and Alexander Peya 7-6 (1), 6-7 (7), 7-5, 3-6, 6-4 in 4 hours, 45 minutes.

Jurgen Melzer and Andreas Haider-Maurer each won singles for Austria on Friday. The reverse singles are Sunday.

Russia has managed to win from 2-0 down only once, against Germany in 1995. The winner will play Spain in the quarterfinals. The defending champions took a decisive 3-0 lead against Kazakhstan.

Croatia leads Japan

Ivo Karlovic and Ivan Dodig beat Tatsuma Ito and Yuichi Sugita 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 Saturday to give Croatia a 2-1 lead over Japan in their first-round World Group series.

Karlovic made the most of his powerful serve, combining with Dodig for 24 aces.

Japan is returning to the World Group for the first time in 26 years after beating India 4-1 in a regional playoff in September. Croatia is seventh in the Davis Cup rankings, 10 places ahead of Japan.

Dodig is scheduled to play Nishikori in Sunday's reverse singles, while Karlovic will face Go Soeda.

Czech Republic advances

The Czech Republic reached the quarterfinals after Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek won the doubles for a 3-0 lead over Italy on Saturday.

Berdych and Stepanek defeated Daniele Braccialli and Potito Starace 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in the first round of the World Cup.

The Czech pair converted the first match point from Stepanek's forehand volley.

In the first set, the Czechs took a 3-0 lead. Stepanek, who won his maiden Grand Slam title when he teamed with Leander Paes of India in the Australian Open doubles final, served it out.

In the second set, Braccialli dropped serve in the third game and Stepanek converted again with a service winner.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.