(Reuters) – Argentina secured a unassailable 2-0 lead over Chile in their opening group stage tie of the revamped Davis Cup in Madrid on Tuesday, courtesy spotless performances in their singles matches.
The International Tennis Federation has faced criticism for meddling with the partisan atmosphere generated by the “home and away” format and replacing it with a soccer World Cup-style format featuring 18 nations, in one city, battling over seven days to be crowned champions.
But the Argentina supporters in their blue and white stripes packed the Centre Court and cheered almost every point as Guido Pella eased past Chilean Nicolas Jarry 6-4 6-3 in the opening match.
Diego Schwartzman produced a ruthless display to beat Cristian Garin 6-2 6-2, ensuring the 2016 champions started the campaign with a convincing victory in Group C.
“It’s the end of the season but I think I played one of the best matches for sure of the year, maybe in my career,” said Schwartzman. “I think Guido helped me a lot to be more confident in this match and I played unreal tennis.”
France, bidding to win their 11th Davis Cup title, made a bright start as the experienced Jo-Wilfried Tsonga raced to a 6-2 6-1 victory over Japan’s Yasutaka Uchiyama.
Japan, who have arrived without the injured Kei Nishikori, roared back into the encounter with a surprise victory as Yoshihito Nishioka overcame Gael Monfils 7-5 6-2. The tie will be decided with a doubles match on Court 2.
Kazakhstan’s Davis Cup veteran Mikhail Kukushkin produced a clinical display to beat Dutchman Botic van de Zandschulp 6-2 6-2.
But Robin Haase dragged the Dutch team back into the contest with a clutch display in the final set tiebreak to beat Alexander Bublik 7-5 3-6 7-6(5).
(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru, editing by Pritha Sarkar)