OSAKA: Japan preserved their status in the Davis Cup’s top tier on Saturday by powering to doubles victory in their World Group playoff against Bosnia.
Despite the absence of Japanese talisman Kei Nishikori, the home side took an unassailable 3-0 lead in Osaka after Ben McLachlan and Yasutaka Uchiyama thrashed Tomislav Brkić and Nerman Fatić 6-2, 6-4, 6-4.
Japan, beaten 3-1 at home by Italy in the World Group first round in February, completed a fourth consecutive playoff success to extend their five-year stay at the Davis Cup’s top table.
After Naomi Osaka’s stunning US Open victory over Serena Williams last weekend, it was McLachlan’s turn to shine a light on Japan’s mixed-race athletes.
The 26-year-old, who was born in New Zealand but whose mother is Japanese, fired down several huge serves at key moments – not least to secure the first and second sets.
Japan tend to struggle without US Open semifinalist Nishikori but they took control of the tie on Friday when US-born Taro Daniel crushed Brkić 6-4, 6-2, 7-6 and Yoshihito Nishioka upset Mirza Bašić 6-4, 6-3, 6-3.
Osaka, who is of Haitian and Japanese descent and was raised in the United States, will be the main draw at next week’s Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo.
Nishikori fell to eventual champion Novak Djokovic in the men’s semifinals in New York, four years after reaching the final.