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Britain beat Canada after default

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Originally published on 06/02/17 00:00

Great Britain reached the Davis Cup quarter-finals for a fourth straight year after a 3-2 victory over Canada in Ottawa

The tie ended in bizarre circumstances, however, after Canada’s Denis Shapovalov was defaulted from the final rubber after he hit a ball in frustration and it struck the chair umpire.

With the tie in the balance at 2-2, Kyle Edmund was in control of the decisive final rubber when he broke in the third set for a 6-3 6-4 2-1 lead when his 17-year-old opponent swung at the ball in anger, hitting Arnaud Gabas in eye, prompting referee Brian Earley to declare an immediate default for unsportsmanlike conduct.

"It was a strange way to finish," said Edmund. "I've never been part of something like that."

"A bit of a surprise what happened at the end there and I feel for the young lad,” Great Britain captain Leon Smith said of the 2016 boys’ Wimbledon champion. “He's a great talent and he's learned a harsh lesson today."

"There's always a lesson to be learned from the good moments and the worst moments. If he wants to compete at this level he has to keep it together," Canada captain Martin Laurendeau said. "Emotional control is the biggest factor in this game. He must learn the lesson and hope it serves him in the rest of his career."

A statement by the International Tennis Federation said that Shapovalov sought out Gabas in the referee’s office to apologise. Gabas, who had bruising and swelling to his left eye, was sent to Ottawa General Hospital for evaluation.

Great Britain will meet France in the quarter-finals in April after Yannick Noah's team beat Japan 4-1 in Tokyo. Richard Gasquet and Gilles Simon gave the visitors a 2-0 lead on the opening day before Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut sealed an unassailable 3-0 lead in the doubles.

Novak Djokovic, the only member of the world’s top 10 in action this weekend, helped 2010 champions Serbia defeat Russia 4-0 in Nis. Despite the tie being wrapped up on Day Two, a near-capacity crowd filled the Cair Sports Centre to watch Dusan Lajovic beat Konstantin Kravchuk 6-3 4-6 10-2 on Sunday.

“They were unbelievable,” Djokovic said of the crowd. “We really enjoyed the people's hospitality here and revelled in their fantastic support which made the home court advantage count. We would love to come back here for another tie.”

Serbia could once again meet Britain in the semi-finals, should both teams win their respective quarter-final ties. Serbia will meet Spain in April, after Conchita Martinez’s team narrowly beat last year’s runners-up Croatia 3-2.

In the absence of top players Marin Cilic, Ivo Karlovic, Borna Coric and Ivan Dodig, world No.223 Franko Skugor was nearly the hero for the home side in Osijek, beating Pablo Carreno Busta in a fifth set tiebreak in the opening rubber, and with the hosts leading 2-1, he pushed Roberto Bautista Agut to four sets in the reverse singles before Carreno Busta sealed a 3-2 win with a straight sets victory over Nikola Mektic.

“Friday was a really tough moment – maybe the worst moment of my career,” said Carreno Busta. “I’ve gone from one of the toughest moments to one of my happiest. It’s incredible. This isn’t my victory, this is a Spanish victory.”

Australia will host USA in April’s quarter-finals after Lleyton Hewitt’s team beat No.4 seeds Czech Republic 4-1 in Melbourne. Australia’s Jordan Thompson, picked over Bernard Tomic, won both of his singles rubbers on his Davis Cup debut.

While traditionally it would be USA’s turn to host the tie after Jim Courier’s team travelled to Kooyong Tennis Club in the first round last year, Australia will host once again after a longstanding agreement.

Back in 1999 on the centenary of the competition, USA wanted to host the tie at Longwood Cricket Club in Boston, home of the first ever Davis Cup tie. It should have been Australia’s turn to host, but they agreed to travel to Massachusetts in return for two consecutive home ties. Until last year’s tie, USA and Australia had not met since 1999.

“We really want to make a good run this year and we’ve given ourselves an opportunity to do that now,” said Australia captain Lleyton Hewitt. “We know it’s going to get a lot tougher along the way. We have a good team going forward and we’re going to look forward to this next quarter-final.”

Meanwhile, in the absence of Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka, Switzerland had no answer to the strength of the Americans in Birmingham, Alabama. Jack Sock, John Isner, Sam Querrey and Steve Johnson each won a singles rubber as they dealt a 5-0 whitewash to the Swiss team.

Finalists in 2015, Belgium beat Germany 4-1 in Frankfurt to reach the quarter-finals, where they await Italy, who knocked out reigning champions Argentina. The Italians took a 2-0 lead in Buenos Aires, but the hosts fought back to take the tie to a deciding rubber, in which Fabio Fognini fought back from two sets down to beat Guido Pella 2-6 4-6 6-3 6-4 6-2.

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