MADRID: David Ferrer crushed Switzerland’s Stanislas Wawrinka 6-2 6-4 6-0 to fire depleted champions Spain into the quarter-finals of the Davis Cup on Sunday and set up a clash away to nine-times winners France.
Novak Djokovic booked Serbia’s place in the last eight at the expense of the United States, the world number two being pushed all the way by John Isner before winning 7-5 3-6 6-3 6-7 6-4 in the fourth singles rubber in Belgrade.
Mikhail Youzhny sent Russia through when he thrashed India’s Somdev Devvarman 6-2 6-1 6-3 in Moscow.
Russia, the 2006 champions will face Argentina in July’s quarters, after David Nalbandian won the final rubber against Sweden’s Andreas Vinciguerra 7-5 6-3 4-6 6-4 in Stockholm.
Nalbandian, recently recovered from a leg muscle tear, was a late addition to the team, and his all-court game was too much for the 232nd-ranked Vinciguerra.
Serbia face neighbours Croatia, the first meeting between the two countries since they became independent nations following the breakup of the former Yugoslavia.
France, 2009 finalists Czech Republic and 2005 winners Croatia all progressed on Saturday, the French defeating Germany, Czech Republic ousting Belgium and the Croats seeing off Ecuador.
Ferrer’s victory in Spain’s first-round tie in Logrono gave the holders, missing injured Rafael Nadal, Fernando Verdasco and Juan Carlos Ferrero for the start of their bid for a third consecutive title, an unbeatable 3-1 lead.
Nicolas Almagro, who lost to Wawrinka in Friday’s opening singles rubber, later dispatched Marco Chiudinelli 6-1 6-3 in a shortened final rubber to seal a 4-1 success.
World number 16 Ferrer comfortably took the first set on the clay at the Plaza de Toros de la Ribera, before 19th-ranked Wawrinka stormed back to open a 4-1 lead in the second.
However, the Spaniard reeled off five straight games and Wawrinka lost his cool at 5-4 down, smashing his racket repeatedly on the ground and incurring a point penalty.
The Swiss, leading his side in the absence of world number one Roger Federer, fell to pieces in the third set in the face of some brilliant play from Ferrer that delighted the boisterous red and yellow-clad Spanish fans.
It was Spain’s 19th straight win in Davis Cup home ties stretching back to a defeat by Brazil in 1999.
“Playing here in front of your fans is the greatest thing for a tennis player,” Ferrer said in a television interview.
“The match against France will be a tough hurdle but I think we have the squad to keep this run going.”
Russia extended their winning streak at home to 17 ties and will play Argentina at home.
Youzhny said: “I had to play a bit more aggressively than usual, as it’s tough to play against a guy who doesn’t miss anything. I’ve played well over the two matches and I’m happy with my game, and that we’re through to the next round.”
Chile’s home tie against Israel in Coquimbo was rescheduled to start on Saturday because of the disruption caused by last weekend’s earthquake, with a quarter-final against the Czechs in July the prize.
The Israelis, having lost the opening singles, kept their hopes alive with a doubles victory.
Andy Ram and Jonathan Erlich came from behind to beat Jorge Aguilar and Paul Capdeville 6-7 7-6 2-6 6-1 6-0 in three and a quarter hours.
“They started well but I think the difference was experience,” said Ram. “We’ve been playing Davis Cup a long time and we knew it was no big deal being two sets to one down.”