As the new-look Davis Cup edges its way to a conclusion on Sunday, the quarter-final line up was established during Thursday with the first of them between Canada and Australia actually being played out that same evening.
We're just playing really well - we're in form Vasek Pospisil
For much of this year Canada has been at the forefront with its young guns and that rise in tennis terms continued as they defeated the Australians 2-1 to reach the semi-finals.
Surprisingly Nick Kyrgios, who had played in the two group matches, was side-lined into a cheerleading role which captain Lleyton Hewitt explained: “He got injured last night. We didn’t really have a choice. He couldn’t play. So Johnny had to step up to the plate. He had a collarbone injury.”
John Millman was consequently tasked with securing the opening rubber but found himself defending his side of the court once Vasek Pospisil got his serving eye in, the Canadia went on claim the first point 7-6(7) 6-4.
Alex De Minaur kept Australia in contention with a 3-6 6-3 7-5 victory over Denis Shapovalov in the battle of the young guns in front of a disappointingly small but enthusiastic crowd.
Shapovalov‘s enthusiastic tennis basically let him down as he fired more errors than winners as he attempted to regain the form which saw him dominate the first set.
De Minaur, in contrast, kept his calm and concentration allowing his opponent to self-combust.
While the Australians had managed to bring themselves back into contention, they were unable to complete the comeback, with Pospisil, who is ranked a lowly 150 after injury, and Shapovalov defeating John Peers and Jordan Thompson 6-4 6-4 to set up a semi-final meeting with either Serbia or Russia on Saturday.
“We just went out there and from the first point, we were just going maximum intensity, energy, focus,” Pospisil said. “Denis and I played extremely well. I think we clicked perfectly.
“We’re just playing really well – we’re in form.”
Play finished a full four hours earlier than on Wednesday night, much to the relief of organisers, who took a step towards addressing scheduling concerns by adjusting Friday’s quarter-finals starting times and bringing them forward by 30-minutes.
The group match between the United States and Italy finished at 4.04am in Madrid on Thursday morning, setting an unwanted record for the latest Davis Cup match in history.
In other action Serbia eased through following up their initial victory over Japan, with a 2-1 success against France to eliminate the top seeds.
Filip Krajinovic produced a fine display to defeat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-5 7-6(5) before Djokovic claimed a comfortable 6-3 6-3 victory over Benoit Paire, who was preferred to Gael Monfils.
Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut won the doubles against Janko Tipsarevic and Viktor Troicki but France’s hopes of qualification had already gone.
“This is the most ideal scenario for us,” said Djokovic. “Winning both ties after singles and not being really pressured by the doubles.
“So we’re coming into the quarters now and playing against Russia tomorrow. That’s definitely one of the best quality teams here. It’s going to be a big challenge.”
Russia were one of the two best-placed runners-up along with Argentina, who will take on hosts Spain.
Spain will be without their number two singles player, Roberto Bautista Agut, who left the competition to return following the death of his father.
The last quarter-final pits Germany against Great Britain after both teams won deciding doubles rubbers against Chile and Kazakhstan, respectively.