France, Czechs and Croatia through in Davis Cup



France, Czechs and Croatia through in Davis Cup Toulon: Doubles specialists Michael Llodra and Julien Benneteau combined to fire France into the quarter-finals of the Davis Cup with a battling four-set win over Germany's Philipp Kohlschreiber and Christopher Kas in Toulon.

The victory gave the nine-times winners an unbeatable 3-0 lead in the best-of-five tie and set up a last-eight clash against champions Spain or Switzerland in July.

Depleted Spain, missing injury casualties Rafael Nadal, Fernando Verdasco and Juan Carlos Ferrero, were tied at 1-1 with the Swiss after Friday's two singles rubbers.

The Swiss, without unavailable world number one Roger Federer, are bidding to become the first team to beat the Spanish in 19 home ties stretching back to a defeat by Brazil in 1999. Spain also won the title in 2000, 2004 and 2008.

French captain Guy Forget was happy with the first Davis Cup outing for Llodra and Benneteau.

"I'm very satisfied with the way they started the match," Forget said in a courtside television interview. "They were a bit shaky in the third set but they came back together in the fourth. We knew it would be a close doubles but we wanted to win at home."

Last year's finalists Czech Republic and 2005 winners Croatia also went through to the quarters on Saturday.

Czechs Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek followed up Friday's singles successes with a straight-sets doubles victory over Belgium's Steve Darcis and Olivier Rochus in Bree.

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In Varazdin, Croatian pair Marin Cilic and Ivo Karlovic, who won their singles on Friday, teamed up to see off Ecuadorian brothers Nicolas and Giovanni Lapentti.

"It wasn't one-way traffic in the doubles, it was as tough as we expected it to be, and we are overjoyed to have secured a berth in the last eight," Cilic said in a courtside interview.

The Czechs will next play Chile or Israel, whose tie in Coquimbo was rescheduled to start on Saturday because of the disruption caused by last weekend's earthquake.

Croatia face the United States or Serbia.

Bob Bryan and John Isner gave the US a lifeline in Belgrade on Saturday by winning a tight doubles rubber against Janko Tipsarevic and Nenad Zimonjic following Friday's singles victories for world number two Novak Djokovic and Viktor Troicki against Sam Querrey and Isner.

Doubles specialists Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes kept alive India's hopes by crushing Russian pair Teimuraz Gabashvili and Igor Kunitsyn 6-3 6-2 6-2 in Moscow. India trail 2-1 going into Sunday's reverse singles.

In Stockholm, Argentina drafted in David Nalbandian to partner Horacio Zeballos in the doubles against Robin Soderling and Robert Lindstedt, with the tie in Stockholm level at 1-1.

Bureau Report