France finishes off Germany, makes quarters
France advanced to the Davis Cup quarterfinals after Michael Llodra and Julien Benneteau defeated Philipp Kohlschreiber and Christopher Kas 6-1, 6-4, 1-6, 7-5 on Saturday for an insurmountable 3-0 lead.
Benneteau converted the French duo's second match point with a forehand volley winner. Benneteau and Llodra played together for the first time in Davis Cup and broke their opponents four times.
On Friday, Gael Monfils and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga won the opening singles against Kohlschreiber and Benjamin Becker respectively.
France will play at home against either Spain or Switzerland in the quarterfinals July 9-11.
Coming off their victory in Marseille last month, Llodra and Benneteau won the first set in just 28 minutes after Kas missed a lob.
The French, who didn't lose a service game in the first two sets, broke their German rivals in the first game of the second set before Llodra served out the set with three consecutive winners.
Llodra and Benneteau then failed to stay at the same level and committed 13 unforced errors in the third set, allowing the Germans to break in the fourth game when Benneteau netted a volley.
The fourth set was tight most of the way. Benneteau gave his team a first match point in the 10th game with a good return but Kohlschreiber saved it with a service winner. Kas was then broken in the 12th game, sending the French team to the quarterfinals for the ninth time in 10 years.
Last year, France failed to reach the quarterfinals for the first time since 2000 and had to beat the Netherlands in the playoffs to stay in the World Group.
Berdych, Stepanek send Czechs into quarters
The Czech Republic advanced to the Davis Cup quarterfinals after Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek beat Olivier Rochus and Steve Darcis of Belgium 7-6 (0), 6-0, 6-3 to gain an insurmountable 3-0 lead.
The Czechs switched from their original choice of inexperienced pair Lukas Dlouhy and Jan Hajek for the doubles on Saturday. Berdych and Stepanek had won their first five Davis Cup matches together until losing to Spain in last year's final.
In singles play Friday, Berdych defeated Olivier Rochus 6-3, 6-0, 6-4 before Stepanek downed Xavier Malisse 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 (3).
The Czechs will meet either Chile or Israel in the quarterfinals in July.
Croatia earns spot in quarters
Croatia clinched a spot in the Davis Cup quarterfinals Saturday after Marin Cilic and Ivo Karlovic earned a straight-sets win in the doubles to give the host an insurmountable 3-0 lead.
The Croatian duo beat brothers Nicolas and Giovanni Lapentti 7-6 (3), 6-3, 7-5 after sweeping the opening singles on Friday.
"Even I didn't expect it to be that easy,'' coach Goran Prpic said. "This gives us a confidence to believe that we can move further than last year,'' when Croatia was ousted in the semifinals by the Czech Republic.
Croatia -- the 2005 Davis Cup champion -- will next face either Serbia or the United States. Serbia led 2-1 ahead of Sunday's reverse singles, and the Croatian team has made no secret that it wants to host its neighbor -- and archrival in politics and sports.
The two countries fought a war in 1991, and while they've since vastly improved relations, tensions between the two nations still occasionally flare up.
Cilic and Karlovic replaced original doubles pair Ivan Dodig and Antonio Veic for the doubles.
The Croats were broken to give Ecuador a 1-0 lead in the second set before winning four games in a row to take control for good.
"When we won first set, we relaxed,'' Karlovic said.
Both Karlovic and Cilic are having a good season: Cilic made it into the top 10 of the ATP rankings for the first time last month and Karlovic reached the final at Delray Beach, Florida last week.
The reverse singles, in which youngsters Dodig and Veic will play for Croatia, are scheduled for Sunday.
Argentina nabs 2-1 lead over Sweden
Argentina took a 2-1 lead over Sweden in their Davis Cup first-round series Saturday after David Nalbandian and Horacio Zeballos defeated Robin Soderling and Robert Lindstedt 6-2, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (5) in the doubles.
The Argentine duo broke twice in the first set to take a 4-0 lead and then proved stronger in each of the tiebreakers, with Zeballos converting their second match point with a volley. Zeballos is making his Davis Cup debut, while Nalbandian has 10 doubles wins in the tournament.
Nalbandian was a late replacement for Leonardo Mayer after overcoming a recent injury in time to play.
"For being the first time we play together I think it's excellent,'' Nalbandian said. "I think it was very tough in the end, but we played really good and we're happy.''
On Friday, Soderling defeated Eduardo Schwank in the opening singles and Leonardo Mayer beat Joachim Johansson to level the tie.
On Sunday, Soderling will meet Mayer, and Johansson is set to play Schwank.