Davis Cup: Australia, Kazakhstan, Italy and Serbia take a commanding lead


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Davis Cup: Australia, Kazakhstan, Italy and Serbia take a commanding lead

The very first edition of Davis Cup Qualifiers gathers 24 countries that fight for the place at Davis Cup finals in November in Madrid, competing on Friday and Saturday in the best-of-three format. Australia host Bosnia and Herzegovina in Adelaide and they have made a great start, with John Millman and Alex de Minaur delivering two points to put their country in the driving seat before the Saturday's action that includes the doubles match and two more singles.

Competing in his second Davis Cup match, John Millman secured the maiden win with a one-sided 6-3, 6-2 triumph over Damir Dzumhur in an hour and 11 minutes, losing serve twice but dominating on the return against the struggling rival all the time.

Serving at only 50%, Damir won 20 out of 48 points behind the initial shot and that wasn't enough to stay competitive and at least prolong the match. John forced an error from his rival to grab a break in the eighth game, holding at love a few minutes later following another poor groundstroke from Dzumhur to take the opener 6-3.

They traded breaks in games three and four in set number two before John shifted into a higher gear, breaking again in the fifth game and marching towards the finish line with another one at 4-2. Another Aussie scored the first Davis Cup win, with the 19-year-old Alex de Minaur beating Mirza Basic 6-3 7-6 in an hour and 27 minutes, losing serve once and scoring two breaks on the other side to prevail in straight sets and deliver the second point for Australia.

The youngster saved seven out of eight break points he faced to limit the damage in his games, winning the second set tie break 7-0 to cross the finish line in style. Basic hit a double fault in the eighth game of the opening set to move de Minaur in front, netting a backhand in the next game to hand the set to his rival.

They exchanged breaks in games five and six in set number two and it was Alex who saved the best for last, taking all seven points in the breaker to claim the first win in Davis Cup. India decided to host Italy on grass in Kolkata although that gave them nothing so far, trailing 2-0 after the opening day following commanding wins from Andreas Seppi and Matteo Berrettini.

Competing in his 14th Davis Cup season, Andreas Seppi needed just 71 minutes to dismiss Ramkumar Ramanathan 6-4, 6-2 for his 23rd Davis Cup triumph. Andreas outplayed the younger opponent in every department, saving both break points he faced and converting three on the other side to control the scoreboard and march towards the finish line.

Ramkumar fought well in the opening set, staying in touch until 4-4 when Seppi broke him to move in front and close the set with a hold at love in game ten. Ramanathan barely won a point on the return in set number two and he got broken in games three and seven to push Seppi over the top.

The 22-year-old Matteo Berrettini has made the best possible Davis Cup debut, toppling Prajnesh Gunneswaran 6-4, 6-3 in 57 minutes to send Italy closer to overall triumph. Both players landed around 70% of the first serve in but only one of them drew the most from that, with Matteo losing seven points behind the initial shot, never facing a break point and stealing almost half of the points on the return to earn three breaks from seven opportunities.

The opening set was decided in the very first game when Berrettini grabbed a break, settling into a nice rhythm and rattling off five easy holds for a 6-4. He was even more dominant in set number two, breaking Prajnesh's serve in games one and nine to cement a brilliant win and the second point for the Italian squad.

Serbia and Kazakhstan were off to a great start, leading 2-0 against Uzbekistan and Portugal before the Saturday's action while China and Japan split the opening two rubbers to stay locked up at 1-1. Friday's results:

Uzbekistan vs Serbia (Tashkent, Indoor Hard) 0-2
Sanjar Fayziev vs Dusan Lajovic 6-7(4) 3-6
Denis Istomin vs Filip Krajinovic 2-6 4-6
Australia vs Bosnia and Herzegovina (Adelaide, Outdoor Hard) 2-0
John Millman vs Damir Dzumhur 6-3 6-2
Alex de Minaur vs Mirza Basic 6-3 7-6(0)
India vs Italy (Kolkata, Outdoor Grass) 0-2
Ramkumar Ramanathan vs Andreas Seppi 4-6 2-6
Prajnesh Gunneswaran vs Matteo Berrettini 4-6 3-6
Kazakhstan vs Portugal (Astana, Indoor Hard) 2-0
Alexander Bublik vs Joao Sousa 6-7(1) 6-4 6-4
Mikhail Kukushkin vs Pedro Sousa 6-2 6-0
China vs Japan (Guangzhou, Outdoor Hard) 1-1
Zhe Li vs Yoshihito Nishioka 6-3 6-2
Ze Zhang vs Taro Daniel 6-7(3) 4-6