PARIS: Switzerland, missing big guns Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka, were dumped out of the Davis Cup in the first round on Sunday with Belgium advancing 3-2 past the titleholders in Liege.
On the final day of action, Andy Murray sealed a quarter-final berth for Great Britain as Australia, Kazakhstan and Belgium also joined the already qualified France and Serbia in the last eight.
Forced to rely on low-ranked players, the Swiss, who won the title for the first time last November, lost their decisive final rubber when 21st-ranked David Goffin easily dispatched 321-ranked Adrien Bossel 6-4, 6-0, 6-4.
The Swiss had earlier kept their hopes alive by levelling 2-2 when Henri Laaksonen survived a five-setter against Steve Darcis 6-3, 3-6, 3-6, 7-6 (7/5), 6-1.
But Bossel was no match for Goffin, competing for the first time this weekend after shaking off a back problem.
Belgium next play either Canada or Japan, with the Canadians leading 2-1 in Vancouver.
Murray, the world number five, starred for Britain, claiming victory with a 7-6 (7/4), 6-3, 7-6 (7/4) win over US number one John Isner at home in Glasgow.
It sealed the winning point in an eventual 3-2 triumph and set up a final eight meeting in July against last year’s runners-up France who advanced 3-2 past Germany in Frankfurt.
“It’s a big win,” said former Wimbledon champion Murray. “I was very emotional the whole weekend.”
“This is a real team effort and everyone has played their part. It is a pleasure to be a part of this team. To be in the quarter-finals for the second consecutive year is incredible. This is one of the most special atmospheres I’ve ever played in.”
Bob and Mike Bryan had kept the United States in with a chance of a dramatic fightback as they held off a strong challenge from Jamie Murray and Dom Inglot 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-7 (8/10), 9-7 on Saturday.
The tie ended 3-2 on Sunday night after James Ward retired in the final dead rubber despite being 7-5, 0-1 up against American Donald Young.
In Ostrava, Bernard Tomic beat Lukas Rosol in straight sets to lead Australia into the quarter-finals against Kazakhstan past hosts the Czech Republic.
In a clash of the teams’ number-one players, Tomic, the 22-year-old world number 38, saw off 29-year-old Rosol, ranked 31, 7-6 (7/4), 6-3, 7-6 (7/5) in two hours and 13 minutes.
“I was playing confidently and consistently and that was the key I think,” said Tomic.
“I’m happy with the way I did it today.”
In Sunday’s dead rubber, Czech Jan Mertl beat Samuel Groth 6-3, 6-2 to round off the score at 3-2.
It was the seventh time in eight Davis Cup encounters that 28-time winners Australia have beaten the Czech Republic.
Australia now take on Kazakhstan who squeezed past Italy 3-2 in Astana.
Aleksandr Nedovyesov, 28, sealed the winning point, beating Fabio Fognini 7-6 (7/5), 3-6, 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 after Mikhail Kukushkin earlier beat Andreas Seppi 7-6 (10/8), 6-0, 6-4.
Serbia, who had advanced unbeaten on Saturday, completed a 5-0 rout over Croatia in Kraljevo with Filip Krajinovic easing past Franko Skugor 6-4, 6-2 and Viktor Troicki beating Mate Delic 6-4, 6-3.
World number one Novak Djokovic and Nenad Zimonjic had sealed a quarter-final berth on Saturday by beating Franko Skugor and Marin Draganja 6-3, 6-4, 6-1.
Djokovic had easily beaten Mate Delic on Friday as the 2010 winners grabbed a 2-0 lead over a Croatia team missing injured US Open champion Marin Cilic.
Serbia will next face South American opposition with Brazil and Argentina sitting 2-2 in Buenos Aires after Leonardo Mayer levelled for the hosts by beating Joao Souza 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/5), 5-7, 5-7, 15-13.
In Frankfurt, hosts Germany saved face by winning their final reverse singles rubbers against France — Jan-Lennard Struff beating Nicolas Mahut 7-6 (8/6), 6-3, and Philipp Kohlschreiber sing off Gilles Simon 7-6 (7/5), 6-4.
France had assured themselves of a quarter-final berth when Julien Benneteau and Nicolas Mahut posted a 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 doubles success over Benjamin Becker and Andre Begemann on Saturday.