It was a busy opening day in Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Europe/Africa Zone Group II with 16 nations getting their 2012 campaign under way.
Ukraine are bidding for an immediate return to Group I after suffering relegation last year, and they got off to the perfect start at home against Monaco in Dnipropetrovsk.
Illya Marchenko came from a set down to defeat Benjamin Balleret 36 63 61 61 in the opening rubber, before Ukrainian No. 1 Sergiy Stakhovsky, ranked No. 69, recorded a four-set victory of his own versus Jean-Rean Lisnard 61 67(3) 76(3) 63.
Ukraine, the top seeds in this Group, are now well on their way to a second clash with either Cyprus or Morocco, who are currently locked at 1-1 in Limassol. Former Australian Open runner-up Marcos Baghdatis is headlining the tie and he began with a routine win on Friday.
Latvia’s Ernests Gulbis was also in action as he sealed his team’s 2-0 lead over Egypt in Cairo. The world No. 71 overcame Sherif Sabry 62 63 63, adding to teammate Andis Juska’s earlier victory against Egyptian No. 1 Mohamed Safwat 63 64 16 63.
If Latvia are successful then next up would be either Hungary or Ireland. The Irish took the first rubber thanks to a hard-fought victory for James McGee over Adam Kellner 46 63 64 67(7) 64 and the Hungarians levelled proceedings when Marton Fucsovics overcame Conor Niland 76(4) 64 67(3) 26 62.
In the bottom half of the draw, Poland and Estonia both stormed into a 2-0 lead over their first round opponents, making a second round clash against each other look on the cards. The Poles are ahead against Madagascar in Warsaw and the Estonians are beating Luxembourg in Tallinn.
The remaining two ties in the Group are all-square at 1-1. Wins for Marsel Ilhan and Amer Delic meant that it was honours even between Turkey and Bosnia/Herzegovina in Ankara, while Belarus and Moldova are also drawing after victories for Uladzimir Ignatik and Radu Albot in Minsk.