Czechs on top, Swiss level, Italy, Germany lead
By Toby Davis
LONDON (Reuters) - Holders Czech Republic took a huge step towards the Davis Cup semi-finals by opening a 2-0 lead over Japan on Friday, while Roger Federer's Switzerland were locked at 1-1 with Kazakhstan in their quarter-final.
The fancied Swiss were given a scare when Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka was upset in four sets by Kazakhstan's Andrey Golubev, ranked 64 in the world, 61 places below his opponent.
Federer rode to the rescue with a comprehensive straight sets demolition of Mikhail Kukushkin to leave the tie delicately poised ahead of Saturday's doubles.
Britain's double grand slam champion Andy Murray was involved in a dogfight with Italy's Andreas Seppi before bad light saw their clash suspended with the Wimbledon champion leading by a set.
His team, however, were trailing 1-0 in the tie after Fabio Fognini beat James Ward earlier in the day.
France got off to an embarassing start against Germany, who are without the injured Florian Mayer and Tommy Haas.
Arnaud Clement's team were 2-0 down at the end of the first day after Julien Benneteau and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga proved incapable of beating lower ranked opponents in Nancy.
World number 50 Benneteau took the first four games off 96th ranked Tobias Kamke, against whom he had a 3-0 record, but failed to build on his fine start and lost 7-6(8) 6-3 6-2. Continued...