Novak Djokovic helped send Serbia into the 2019 Davis Cup Finals quarter-finals with a game to spare on Thursday after he defeated Benoit Paire 6-3, 6-3 at the Caja Magica in Madrid, Spain.
Filip Krajinovic set Serbia on the path to a decisive victory over France when he beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-5, 7-6 (5), and their pristine record atop Group A was cemented after Djokovic's win over Paire. They'll face Group B runners-up Russia in the next round.
Great Britain also made it through after beating Kazakhstan in the doubles on Thursday evening. Alexander Bublik came back from a set down to beat Dan Evans 5-7, 6-4, 6-1 after Kyle Edmund defeated Mikhail Kukushkin in straight sets 6-3, 6-3.
It meant doubles were needed to settle the tie, and Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski duly obliged, beating Kukushkin and Bublik in straight sets.
Great Britain's last-eight opponents Germany warmed up for the quarter-finals by overcoming Chile after also needing doubles to resolve things. Germany had taken a 1-0 lead after Philipp Kohlschreiber beat Nicolas Jarry in straight sets, but Chile fought back when Cristian Garin survived a tense, three-set tussle with Jan-Lennard Struff.
Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies finished the job for Germany by beating Marcelo Tomas Barrios Vera and Alejandro Tabilo in straight sets.
Canada are the first team into the semi-finals after beating Australia 2-1. Vasek Pospisil was victorious over John Millman in singles action, while he and Denis Shapovalov made sure of progress after winning in the doubles.
Thursday's Group Results
Serbia 2-0 France
Flip Krajinovic bt. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga: 7-5, 7-6 (5)
Novak Djokovic bt. Benoit Paire: 6-3, 6-3
Germany 2-1 Chile
Philipp Kohlschreiber bt. Nicolas Jarry: 6-4, 6-3
Cristian Garin bt. Jan-Lennard Struff: 6-7(1), 7-6(2), 7-6(3)
Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies bt. Marcelo Tomas Barrios Vera and Alejandro Tabilo: 7-6(1), 6-3
Great Britain 2-1 Kazakhstan
Kyle Edmund bt. Mikhail Kukushkin: 6-3, 6-3
Alexander Bublik bt. Dan Evans: 5-7, 6-4, 6-1
Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski bt. Alexander Bublik and Mikhail Kukushkin: 6-1, 6-4
Visit the Davis Cup website to view the group standings in full.
Thursday's Quarter-Final Bracket
Australia 1-2 Canada
Vasek Pospisil bt. John Millman: 7-6(7), 6-4
Alex de Minaur bt. Denis Shapovalov: 3-6, 6-3, 7-5
Vasek Pospisil and Denis Shapovalov bt. John Peers and Jordan Thompson: 6-4, 6-4
Djokovic blazed a trail past Paire at the Estadio Manolo Santana after an initially slow start in Spain, knowing victory in his match would be enough to prolong Serbia's stay in the competition.
The world No. 2 was in need of a big performance after he recently failed to make it past the group stage of the 2019 ATP Tour finals, though he had to save two break points in the opening game against Paire.
Three successive game wins at the end of the first set sealed matters from 3-3, but Nole looked more dominant from the offset in the second set and cleared up in more convincing fashion, per Record's Jose Morgado:
Krajinovic made light work of Japan's Yuichi Sugita when they collided on Wednesday, and the Serb sealed another straight-sets win over Tsonga to continue his fine form, per the Guardian's Tumaini Carayol:
Great Britain began their clash against Kazakhstan with Edmund notching a dominant result of his own in the clash with Kukushkin.
The Daily Mail's Mike Dickson marvelled at the display Edmund mustered in Madrid, suggesting the player would have enjoyed a more prosperous 2019 had he played this well year-round:
Edmund had made the most of his opportunity after being called into action because Leon Smith rested Andy Murray after the latter's epic victory against Tallon Griekspoor on Wednesday, according to Metro's George Bellshaw.
Evans could have made it a quick day's work for Great Britain with a win over Bublik, and he came close to achieving it when he led 7-5, 4-3 midway through the second set.
The Kazakh gifted his opponent the first set due to a calamitous double fault, but Bublik aced his opponent to seal the second before capping off an almost unanswered third set, per BBC 5 Live commentator David Law:
Murray was the man on form as Great Britain romped to a 6-1 win in the first set. Yet it was Davis Cup debutant Skupski who stole the show in key moments during the second by staying strong on serve and allowing his team to pull away at 4-4 and seal the match.
Germany are waiting for Great Britain in the last eight thanks to the way Kohlschreiber got things started by beating Jarry in emphatic fashion.
Even though Garin extended the tie, Germany held their nerve when Krawietz and Mies survived a tiebreak to win the first set, before handling Barrios Vera and Tabilo more comfortably in the second to complete the lineup for the quarter-finals.
Things were going Canada's way when Pospisil proved too good for Millman in straight sets. The latter couldn't make the decisive shots to survive a tiebreak in the opener, but Millman didn't get close enough in the second.
Australia weren't ready to slip to a quick defeat, though, and Alex de Minaur kept the match alive after edging past Shapovalov in three sets. De Minaur's athleticism consistently made the difference:
What was left was for Pospisil and Shapovalov to finish the job. Canada's reward is a match against Djokovic and Serbia in what will surely be one of the standout ties in the last four.