MELBOURNE : Doubles pair John Peers and Sam Groth gave Australia an unassailable 3-0 lead over the Czech Republic in the Davis Cup World Group with a crushing straight sets victory in Melbourne on Saturday.
Peers and Groth raced through the scratch Czech pairing of Jiri Vesely and Jan Satral, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 in 90 minutes to deliver the tie to the Australians.
The Czechs had to win the pivotal doubles rubber to stay in the best-of-five match tie after losing both of Friday s opening singles matches.
John Peers and Sam Groth in action for Australia in the Davis Cup. AFP John Peers and Sam Groth in action for Australia in the Davis Cup. AFP
But they were further disadvantaged when doubles specialist Radek Stepanek was forced to withdraw from the doubles with injury on top of the unavailability of world number 10 Tomas Berdych for the tie.
World number 15 Nick Kyrgios conceded just seven games in reeling off a 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 win over the 157th-ranked Satral, while rookie Jordan Thompson upset Czech number one Vesely 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 in Friday s singles.
Australia, captained by Lleyton Hewitt, will now face either the United States or Switzerland in the quarter-finals of the teams competition on April 7-9 and will have home advantage should the Americans progress.
“I m very happy. We wanted to make a run this year. We know it ll get tougher but we ve got a really good team,” Hewitt said.
“They (Peers and Groth) prepared well, they did all the hard work getting to gel because they don t play together that often.
“It would be a tough ask against the USA. They re a tough team with four good players but it s not long between ties which is good.”
Doubles specialist Peers is fresh off a Grand Slam title win at last week s Australian Open, while Groth reached the quarter-finals of the men s doubles in Melbourne.
“It s never easy to back up after what happened at the Australian Open. Everyone did an amazing job to come together and that made it easier,” Peers said.
Groth added: “I thought we played well together. We ve had a lot of time on court and it came together.”
Australia now lead the Czech Republic 8-1 in the Davis Cup competition.
Australia, 28-time winners, have not won the Davis Cup since 2003 and only returned to the competitionâ€™s top tier in 2014 after a six-year absence.
In Tokyo France wrapped up victory in their Davis Cup first-round tie against Japan after Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut won Saturday s doubles to give the visitors an unassailable 3-0 lead.
The Wimbledon champions swatted aside Yuichi Sugita and Yasutaka Uchiyama 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 after Richard Gasquet and Gilles Simon had dominated the opening day s singles in Tokyo on Friday.
Japan have failed to win a single set in three matches in the absence of world number five Kei Nishikori, who opted to sit out the World Group clash.
Gasquet swept past Taro Daniel 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 on Friday before Simon overpowered Yoshihito Nishioka 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 to put Yannich Noah s team firmly in the driving seat.
Nine-time winners France have now won all four of their Davis Cup meetings with Japan, who will look to avoid a whitewash in Sunday s dead-rubber reverse singles.
The French will face either Canada or Britain in April s quarter-finals.