The Czech national team remained on course towards its third successive Davis Cup title as they have reached the semi-final stage by thrashing Japan in Tokyo this weekend. The first pair of athletes to square off against each other on the hard court of Ariake Coliseum were 146th-ranked Tatsuma Ito and Radek Stepanek, currently sitting at World no. 46. To the joy of the home crowd it was the Japanese who grabbed the opener in a tie-break and nearly doubled the lead, yet he wasted a couple of set points at 6-5 in the second set and allowed the Czech veteran to level the terms after another breaker. Stepanek took advantage of the momentum shift and cruised through the third set before seizing the single break of the fourth set to complete his comeback for a 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5), 6-1, 7-5 victory.
40th-ranked Lukas Rosol followed the teammate’s example and secured the second point for the visitors for a handy looking lead after the Friday matches. While 21-year-old Taro Daniel, ranked 190th, bounced back after falling two sets behind, the domestic player ran out of steam in the decider which was dominated by Rosol who clinched a 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 6-2 win after three hours and sixteen minutes of tennis.
The winner of the quarter-final tie would be ultimately determined after the Saturday’s doubles clash when Rosol and Stepanek got the better of Ito and Yasutaka Uchiyama by winning 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 to construct an uncatchable 3-0 advantage after the second day.
Although the Sunday encounters were merely a formality, the Czechs continued with a strong performance in the Japan’s capital. First, Rosol seized a three-setter against World no. 268 Uchiyama as he won 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, whilst 67th-ranked Jiri Vesely defeated Daniel 6-4, 6-4 to round off a spotless 5-0 triumph. Tomas Berdych and Kei Nishikori were not nominated to play in the quarter-final tie.
World Group Quarterfinal, Japan – Czech Republic 0-5.
The defending champions will meet either France or Germany in the semis.
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