Paris: Switzerland and Serbia, missing the accumulated Grand Slam power of Roger Federer, Stan Wawrinka and Novak Djokovic, slumped to defeat in the Davis Cup first round on Saturday, allowing Kazakhstan and the United States to reach the quarter-finals.
The Swiss have now fallen in the first round every year since their only title triumph in 2014, which was inspired by 20-time major winner Federer and three-time Grand Slam champion Wawrinka.
But with recently-crowned Australian Open champion Federer and injury-hit Wawrinka not making the trip to Astana, the Kazakhs made the most of their opportunity.
Timur Khabibulin and Aleksandr Nedovyesov sealed the key point by seeing off Marc-Andrea Huesler and Luca Margaroli 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 6-7 (5), 6-3 in the doubles for a 3-0 lead.
Serbia, the 2010 champions but without Djokovic, were also defeated as Ryan Harrison and Steve Johnson downed Nikola Milojevic and Miljan Zekic 6-7 (3), 6-2, 7-5, 6-4 for a 3-0 advantage on the clay courts in Nis.
Djokovic, the 12-time major winner and former World No 1, was absent after undergoing surgery to cure a long-standing right elbow injury.
The United States, who have been champions 32 times, were 2-0 up overnight after singles wins for Sam Querrey and John Isner.
Harrison, with a world ranking of 19 in doubles, teamed with Johnson against the rookie pair of unranked Zekic and the world 307 Milojevic and set up a quarter-final against Belgium or Hungary.
Belgium, the runners-up in 2017, are 2-1 ahead of Hungary in Liege.
The win was sweet revenge for the United States who had lost to Serbia in the 2010 and 2013 competition.
"We feel good about our team and our depth. We're excited," said Harrison.
The remaining six first-round ties will be decided on Sunday.
Defending champions France are 2-1 up on the Netherlands in Albertville after Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert defeated Robin Haase and Jean-Julien Rojer 7-6 (6), 6-3, 6-7 (3), 7-6 (2).
"It was by far their best match in the Davis Cup," said France skipper Yannick Noah.
The winners will face either Japan or Italy for a place in the semi-finals.
Italy have the edge over Japan in their tie in Morioka after veterans Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini beat New Zealand-born Ben McLachlan and Yasutaka Uchiyama 7-5, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (3) 7-5.
Japan, without talisman Kei Nishikori, are looking to reach the quarter-finals for only the second time while Italy were champions back in 1976.
Five-time champions Spain, without World No 1 Rafael Nadal, are 2-1 up on Great Britain on clay in Marbella after Pablo Carreno Busta and Feliciano Lopez defeated Jamie Murray and Dominic Inglot 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (4).
Britain are missing Andy Murray, who is recovering from hip surgery.
The winners of that tie will face either Australia, the 28-time champions, or Germany who are 2-1 ahead in their tie in Brisbane.
Tim Puetz and Jan-Lennard Struff beat John Peers and Matthew Ebden 6-4, 6-7 (1), 6-2, 6-7 (4), 6-4 in the doubles on Saturday.
Alexander Zverev, the World No 5, can secure the winning point on Sunday if he beats the enigmatic Nick Kyrgios in the first of the reverse singles.
In Osijek, meanwhile, world number three in singles and Australian Open runner-up Marin Cilic teamed with Ivan Dodig in a thrilling comeback to see off Daniel Nestor and Vasek Pospisil 2-6, 3-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-2 as Croatia lead Canada 2-1.
"It was incredibly tough," said a relieved Cilic.
The winners of that tie will face Kazakhstan in the last eight.
Published Date: Feb 04, 2018 10:26 AM | Updated Date: Feb 04, 2018 10:26 AM