• Davis Cup

Winning return for Federer

ESPN staff
January 31, 2014 « No deadline day signings for United - Moyes | Chartbeat test »
Federer celebrates a winning return to Davis Cup action © AP
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Roger Federer cruised past Ilija Bozoljac on his Davis Cup return to put Switzerland 1-0 up over Serbia in the first-round tie, before Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka doubled the lead with victory over Dusan Lajovic.

Federer won 6-4 7-5 6-2 in a little under two hours and faced little challenge from Bozoljac, who served well but still was no match for the Swiss.

Bozoljac opened the match with two aces and had a set point while leading 5-2 in the second. But Federer held serve and broke to regain control over the set.

"Ilija was playing well, especially in the second set," Federer said. "It was a tough game, it could have been one set all."

It was Federer's first Davis Cup appearance since 2012.

Wawrinka faced a tougher task against 102-ranked Lajovic in the second match, before winning 6-4 4-6 6-1 7-6(7).

Lajovic opened his match with a break, but Wawrinka soon broke back and went on to win the set easily. Lajovic then took advantage of several unforced errors by Wawrinka to take the second set.

However, Lajovic missed two set points in the tie-break of the fourth before Wawrinka closed out the match.

"It was a tough game, he played well," Wawrinka said. "It's never easy when you come so late after an important tournament, but I managed to overcome that."

Switzerland are overwhelming favourites against Serbia, last year's finalist and the 2010 Davis Cup champions, who are playing without Novak Djokovic and two other top players.

In Friday's other first-round matches, Richard Gasquet and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga both won in straight sets to give France a commanding 2-0 lead against Australia in Paris.

The ninth-ranked Gasquet had little trouble beating teenager Nick Kyrgios 7-6(3) 6-2 6-2 and the 10th-ranked Tsonga followed up just as emphatically to dispatch Lleyton Hewitt 6-3 6-2 7-6(2) and improve to 4-0 in head-to-heads against the former two-time grand slam champion.

"They were two very good matches," France captain Arnaud Clement said. "They did what they had to do and played the right way."

Canada's Frank Dancevic beat Japan's Go Soeda 6-4 7-6 (2) 6-1 to leave the teams at 1-1 following the opening singles matches of their Davis Cup World Group clash.

Japan's Kei Nishikori earlier beat Peter Polansky 6-4 6-4 6-4 to open the first meeting for the two nations since 1938.

In Kazakhstan, Mikhail Kukushkin and Andrey Golubev prevailed in tough singles as the host country took a 2-0 lead over Belgium. Kukushkin beat Ruben Bemelmans 6-4 6-7(3) 6-2 6-3. Golubev took almost 4 hours, 40 minutes to defeat David Goffin 7-6(9) 3-6 4-6 6-2 12-10.

In Ostrava, the Czech Republic leveled its Davis Cup World Group tie with the Netherlands at 1-1 on Friday after Tomas Berdych swept aside Igor Sijsling in the opening singles. Berdych, an Australian Open semi-finalist, dominated throughout as he cruised to a 6-3 6-3 6-0 victory for the defending champions in the first round match-up.

Never facing a break point, the seventh-ranked Berdych broke Sijsling early in each set and secured one break in the first set, two in the second and three in the third before converting his first match point with a powerful forehand winner.

"I tried to go on attack," Berdych said. "I'm glad that I got rid of the fatigue (from the Australian Open). I felt really good on the court and played accordingly."

Earlier, Robin Haase rallied to beat Radek Stepanek in five sets and give the Netherlands a 1-0 lead. The 46th-ranked Haase won the hard fought contest 3-6 6-4 6-7(4) 6-2 6-1 in 3 hours and 39 minutes on an indoor hard court at CEZ Arena.

In Frankfurt, Philipp Kohlschreiber and Florian Mayer won their singles matches to give Germany a commanding 2-0 lead over Spain. Kohlschreiber had little difficulty in defeating Roberto Bautista Agut 6-2 6-4 6-2 in 1 hour, 43 minutes.

And in Argentina, Carlos Berlocq defeated Andreas Seppi of Italy to give his country a 1-0 lead. Berlocq recovered after dropping the first set, winning 4-6 6-0 6-2, 6-1 on the outdoor clay surface.

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