Davis Cup

Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic set up Britain-Serbia quarter-final clash after Davis Cup heroics

World number one leads Serbia to a 3-2 win over Kazakhstan on Sunday to set up a last eight tie against his great rival Andy Murray and defending champions Britain in July

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 March, 2016, 11:47am
UPDATED : Monday, 07 March, 2016, 11:47am

Novak Djokovic led Serbia to a 3-2 win over Kazakhstan on Sunday to set up a Davis Cup quarter-final against his great rival Andy Murray and defending champions Britain in July.

He is a man of steel, isn’t he?
Leon Smith, Britain captain, on Andy Murray

In Birmingham, England, Britain once again had Murray to thank for victory after the Scotsman posted a 7-5, 7-6 (7-6), 3-6, 4-6, 6-3 win over Kei Nishikori to seal a 3-1 win over Japan.

It was his 14th straight victory in Davis Cup, digging deep in his third match in as many days after coming off a five-week break following the birth of his first child.

“He is a man of steel, isn’t he?” Britain captain Leon Smith said of Murray.

It was Nishikori's first loss in 13 Davis Cup matches, a streak stretching back four years.

In Belgrade, Djokovic rallied to beat Mikhail Kukushkin 6-7 (6-7), 7-6 (7-3), 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 in a match lasting almost five hours to get Serbia level at 2-2 against Kazakhstan.

Viktor Troicki swept past Aleksandr Nedovyesov 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 to clinch the win.

READ MORE: Andy Murray lifts Britain to first Davis Cup title for 79 years

“I was nervous,” Troicki said. “Thank you Novak for the amazing victory.”

Djokovic, recovering from an eye infection but also struggling with apparent thigh problems, thought he was lucky to come away with the victory.

“This is probably the most psychologically and physically difficult match in my career,” Djokovic said. “Kokushkin played so well that he probably deserved to win.”

The court surface didn’t make any difference to 32-time winner United States with John Isner defeating Australia’s Bernard Tomic 6-4, 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 (7-4) to clinch a 3-1 victory on grass at Kooyong and a quarter-final meeting at home to Croatia.

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Based on an agreement between the countries and the International Tennis Federation, they were supposed to play on hardcourt. Although all three groups involved forgot about the deal they made in 1999, Isner, the Bryan brothers and Jack Sock made sure it didn’t matter.

Teenager Borna Coric defeated Kimmer Coppejans of Belgium 7-6 (7-5), 6-2, 6-2 in the decisive singles match to book a spot for Croatia with a 3-2 win.

The 19-year-old Coric converted four of five break chances against Coppejans and sealed the match with his seventh ace.

Belgium’s David Goffin earlier upset 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 to level the first round tie at 2-2. Despite his 14 aces, Cilic was broken five times on the clay court of the Country Hall.

Lukas Rosol defeated 18-year-old Davis Cup debutant Alexander Zverev 6-2, 6-3, 6-1 as the Czech Republic beat Germany 3-2.

“It’s bitter that I lost the decisive match,” Zverev said. “I tried everything but today I don’t know what I could do.” Earlier, Philipp Kohlschreiber levelled the first-round tie at 2-2 after Tomas Berdych retired due to a right thigh injury with the German leading 6-3, 7-5.

This is probably the most psychologically and physically difficult match in my career
Novak Djokovic

The Czech Republic next face nine-time champions France, who completed a 5-0 sweep of Canada. After Richard Gasquet defeated Philip Bester 6-1, 7-6 (7-4), Canada’s Frank Dancevic retired while leading 7-6 (7-6) against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on the outdoor clay court of the Velodrome Amedee Detraux.

Italy completed a 5-0 thrashing of Switzerland, who were missing Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka. Marco Cecchinato beat Adrien Bossel 6-3, 7-5 and Paolo Lorenzi defeated Antoine Bellier 6-3, 6-2.

Italy will host Argentina in the quarter-finals after the South Americans beat Poland 3-2 with Leonardo Mayer beating Michal Przysiezny 6-7 (7-4), 7-6 (7-4), 6-2, 6-3 to seal the win in the penultimate rubber.