Britain topped Group A of the Davis Cup while Kazakhstan and Croatia claimed the opening two fixtures in their campaigns as the season-ending clay-court team competition got underway on Wednesday.
The 10-times champions Britain whitewashed Estonia 6-1 in Oviedo to set up a difficult tie against Hungary in the last round of group play.
Britain’s ranking-topping pair, Kyle Edmund and Andy Murray, won all three of their singles rubbers. Croatia also won 6-1 against Germany to top Group B as world No1 Rafael Nadal and second-ranked Marin Cilic both had straight-sets wins.
Next up for Britain is Hungary, who they are set to meet at Windsor Park, near Glasgow, on Sunday. The winners from Group A and Group B meet in the final in Madrid at the end of the month.
Edmund beat Kenichi Taro 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 before the world No98 Marcus Willis beat Daniel Tamagawa 6-1, 6-4, 6-3. Despite doing well against the ninth-ranked Tamagawa, Willis acknowledged the task still lay ahead.
“I thought it was a good week for me, so now I’m looking forward to the next one,” he said. “The best thing was to get the win to go up there and have fun. The Hungarians are an experienced team.”
Kazakhstan, who will host Spain in Astana on Friday, swept aside host Chile 3-0 while Croatia cruised past Latvia 6-1. Meanwhile, the world No8 Czech Republic won the 2014 Davis Cup in Gdansk. The British captain Leon Smith believes Edmund and Murray will relish the challenge of facing Tomas Berdych and Jiri Vesely, the Czechs’ pair of Wimbledon champions who defeated the Brits in 2016.
“It will be a big challenge for Kyle and Andy. I think it will be quite a fast surface. The Czechs won’t be afraid to go on the attack, they will be aggressive. I expect it to be a really tough and entertaining match.”