Stepanek, Rasol give Czechs upper hand

Radek Stepanek and Lukas Rosol gave champions Czech Republic a 2-0 lead in their Davis Cup quarterfinal against Japan after hard-fought victories in their singles matches in Tokyo on Friday.

Former world number eight Stepanek came from a set down to beat Tatsuma Ito 6-7 (5-7), 7-6 (7-5), 6-1, 7-5 before Rosol survived a mid-match meltdown to overcome 21-year-old Taro Daniel 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 6-2 in the second rubber.

Stepanek, 35, fired down 18 aces to quell the challenge of his 146th ranked opponent in three hours, 53 minutes at the Ariake Coliseum after going down in a tight first set tie-break.

Rosol, ranked 40, twice broke Daniel's serve in each of the first two sets to surge ahead but the Japanese debutant fought back, bagging the next two sets to even the match at 2-2.

The Czech got an early break in the final set and also converted his second break point to seal the match out after three hours and 12 minutes.

Ito and Daniel are bearing the weight of Japan's hopes of prgressing after world number 18 Kei Nishikori withdrew with a groin strain and Go Soeda was laid low by a fever.

Japan, Davis Cup runners-up in 1921, are playing their first World Group quarterfinal tie.In the other quarterfinal matches on Friday, Kazakhstan’s Andrey Golubev upset the odds by defeating Australian Open winner Stanislas Wawrinka to take an early lead for them in Geneva. 

Results: At Tokyo: Japan trail Czech Republic 0-2 (Tatsuma Ito lt to Radek Stepanek 7-6 (7-5), 6-7 (5-7), 1-6, 5-7; Taro Daniel lt to Lukas Rosol 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 2-6). 

At Nancy: France trail Germany 0-1 (Julien Benneteau lt to Tobias Kamke 6-7 (8-10), 3-6, 2-6). 

At Naples: Italy leads Great Britain 1-0 Fabio Fognini bt James Ward 6-4, 2-6, 6-4, 6-1); At Geneva: Switzerland trails Kazakhstan 0-1 (Stanislas Wawrinka lt to Andrey Golubev 6-7 (5-7), 2-6, 6-3, 6-7 (5-7).  

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