Saturday, February 11, 2012

Croatia takes 2-1 lead over Japan in Davis Cup

Croatia takes 2-1 lead over Japan in Davis Cup

Ivo Karlovic and Ivan Dodig overpowered Tatsuma Ito and Yuichi Sugita 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 in doubles as Croatia took a 2-1 lead over Japan in their first-round Davis Cup World Group series.

Karlovic made the most of his powerful serve, combining with Dodig for 24 aces in a match that lasted 2 hours, 50 minutes.

Croatia captain Zeljko Krajan replaced Lovro Zovko after determining that Dodig was in good shape after Friday’s five-set loss to Go Soeda that took more than 4 hours, and the move paid off.

“Ivo and Ivan played great today,” Krajan said. “It’s a big difference between 2-1 up and 2-1 down. Tomorrow we have to win one out of two matches, not two out of two matches. We are in a little bit better position than them.”

Japan looked set to stage a comeback after winning the third set and going up 30-0 in Ito’s first service game of the fourth set. But the hosts dropped four straight points including a double-fault and two straight errors by Sugita.

Dodig then served to put Croatia 3-0 up and from that point on the pair were in control.

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. The winners advance to the second round in April while the losers go to a promotion/relegation playoff in September.