David Ferrer crushed Switzerland's Stanislas Wawrinka 6-2, 6-4, 6-0 to fire the depleted champions Spain into the quarter-finals of the Davis Cup yesterday and set up a clash away to the nine-time winners, France. Ferrer's victory in the first-round tie in Logrono gave Spain, who were missing injury casualties Rafael Nadal, Fernando Verdasco and Juan Carlos Ferrero, an unbeatable 3-1 lead in their bid for a third consecutive title.
Mikhail Youzhny booked Russia's place in the last eight when he thrashed India's Somdev Devvarman 6-2, 6-1, 6-3 in Moscow en route to a 3-2 win. The 2006 champions will next face Sweden or Argentina. France, the 2009 finalists Czech Republic and the 2005 winners Croatia all progressed 3-0 on Saturday, against Germany, Belgium and Ecuador respectively. Ferrer, the world No 16, took the first set on the clay, before Wawrinka stormed back to open a 4-1 lead in the second.
But the Spaniard reeled off five games in a row and Wawrinka lost his cool at 5-4 down, smashing his racket into the ground and incurring a point penalty. The Swiss fell to pieces in the third set in the face of some brilliant play from Ferrer that delighted the boisterous red and yellow-clad Spanish fans. "Playing here in front of your fans is the greatest thing for a tennis player," Ferrer said.
"The match against France will be a tough hurdle but I think we have the squad to keep this run going." The Czechs will play Chile or Israel in July's quarter-finals, while Croatia will take on the United States or Serbia. The tie between Chile and Israel in Coquimbo was rescheduled to start on Saturday because of the disruption caused by last weekend's earthquake and the Chileans took both points in the opening singles for a 2-0 lead going into the doubles.
* With agencies