Davis Cup 2016: France and Italy secure spot in last eight

Saturday's doubles rubbers have left six of the eight World Group first round ties still to be decided

Davis Cup 2016: France and Italy secure spot in last eight
The Davis Cup trophy will not be awarded until November (photo from tennisworldusa.com)

France and Italy were the only two countries to seal victory in their respective first-round ties on Saturday, as the Davis Cup World Group saw its first doubles matches of 2016. The results on the second day of the first round leave the other six ties to be decided by the reverse singles matches on Sunday.

Two quarterfinal places sealed

Italy's straightforward three-set win sealed victory over a Swiss team severely weakened by the absence of Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka. The Swiss team will face a relegation playoff for a second straight year, after winning the title in 2014.

France, semifinalists last year, ended Canada's hopes of a strong showing in the competition, their doubles team of Richard Gasquet and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga sewing up the tie with a straight set victory. With four top 20 players, France are perhaps stronger in depth than any other team, and should be taken seriously as title contenders.

Murrays win again

Andy and Jamie Murray sealed the doubles point for Great Britain, continuing the excellent form that saw them play such a huge role in their country's success in 2015. The brothers never looked like losing in a match they were always the heavy favourites for. The result leaves the defending champions needing to win one of the two singles matches tomorrow - highlighted of course by Andy Murray - Kei Nishikori.

The Murray brother have proven to be a formidable pairing (photo from tennis.com)

Other ties still have all to play for

Serbia's hopes of progressing were dealt a heavy blow by the defeat of what looked a strong doubles team in Novak Djokovic and Nenad Zimonjic. Their tie against Khazakstan looks likely to come down to the final rubber, Victor Troicki vs Aleksandr Nedovyesov.

Last year's runners-up, Belguim, find themselves 2-1 down to Croatia after doubles world number seven Ivan Dodig helped the Croatians to a straight-sets doubles win. Marin Cilic faces a tough opponent in David Goffin, but Croatia are the clear favourites for the tie with Borna Coric expected to win the final rubber.

The tie between the USA and Australia is finely poised, a supposedly retired Lleyton Hewett not quite able to help John Peers to defeat the Bryan twins, the Americans winning in five sets. The USA lead 2-1, with both of the final rubbers looking as though they could go either way.

Elsewhere, Argentina suffered a loss in the doubles, but remain heavy favourites to clinch their tie against World Group debutants Poland. A Czech doubles team featuring Tomas Berych and Radek Stepanek took the 2013 champions to the brink of a place in the quarterfinals with a straight set victory over their German opponents.

Sunday sees the conclusion of the first round ties with the two remaining singles rubbers in each tie. The winners of each tie progress to the quarterfinals, while the losers will face a relegation playoff in September.