TOKYO, JAPAN: Japan clinched its Davis Cup by BNP Paribas first round tie with Canada 3-1 on Sunday when Canadian No. 1 Frank Dancevic was forced to default his reverse singles match against Japanese No. 1 Kei Nishikori due to injury.
Nishikori was leading 62 1-0 indoors on the hard court at Ariake Coliseum when the match was halted.
The victory means Japan will advance to the quarterfinal round in the World Group for the first time ever. Japan will meet the winner of the Czech Republic-Netherlands tie in Tokyo on April 4-6.
Dancevic's injury was just the latest for the Canadian team in the tie.
Canada's top-ranked player, Milos Raonic, was forced to withdraw from with a foot injury on Thursday, while Vasek Pospisil, who was originally slated to play doubles on Saturday, was unable to recover in time from an injury. Both were hurt at the Australian Open last month.
"I pulled a stomach muscle. I hurt it on a serve in the second set," said Dancevic. "There was no way I could continue against a player like Kei in that condition."
Dancevic said he was not in the best shape physically coming into the contest.
"I played a lot this weekend. I don't play much doubles on the tour," he said. "If this wasn't Davis Cup, I probably would not have even stepped on the court today."
Nishikori had a hand in all three Japan victories in the tie. He won his opening singles match on Friday against Peter Polansky in straight sets, then teamed up with Yasutaka Uchiyama for a four-set victory in doubles over Dancevic and Daniel Nestor on Saturday.
"The pressure is always on me to win both singles matches," Nishikori commented. "This time I was able to help win three matches."
Nishikori was pleased that Japan reached its target in the tie.
"The quarterfinals was our goal after getting back in the World Group," he stated. "To do it in the first year is very rewarding."
Nishikori wasted little time in taking control of the match, breaking Dancevic in the third game of the first set to go up 2-1.Nishikori then broke again for a 4-1 lead and took the set 62 on serve with an ace in just 29 minutes.
Nishikori used a blazing forehand and sublime serves in the first set and picked up where he left off in the second, breaking Dancevic in the first game.
Following the break, Dancevic took an injury timeout but was unable to continue due to what appeared to be a stomach muscle injury.
Dancevic acknowledged that he was in trouble against Nishikori before he got hurt.
"Kei came out playing really well," he noted. "There wasn't much I could do in that first set."
Japan beat Colombia 3-2 last September to return to the World Group following a one-year absence.
Canada lost in the semifinals last fall to Serbia 3-2.
Japan now has a 6-0 record all-time against Canada in Davis Cup play. The two countries had not played each other since 1938.
Follow this tie as it happens: Live Scores or Watch Live
Captain Martin Laurendeau (CAN) - 02/02/14
Kei Nishikori (JPN) - 02/02/2014