PARIS (AFP) - France, Switzerland and Germany all advanced to the Davis Cup World Group quarter-finals on Saturday as Spain and Serbia crashed out of the 114-year-old competition.
France took an unassailable 3-0 lead over Australia, with Germany seeing off Spain, minus world number one Rafael Nadal, and Switzerland beat 2010 winners and last year's finalists Serbia by the same scoreline.
But the Czech Republic will have to wait until Sunday to keep their quest for a third consecutive title on track as they lead the Netherlands 2-1 at Ostrava.
On clay in Mouilleron-le-Captif, Richard Gasquet and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga clinched the vital rubber for France with a 5-7, 7-6 (7/4), 6-2, 7-5 success over Chris Guccione and Lleyton Hewitt.
"We played a super doubles match," said Tsonga. "It wasn't unusual because we played all the junior competitions together." France were sitting pretty overnight after Gasquet beat Aussie teenager Nick Kyrgios 7-6 (7/3), 6-2, 6-2, before Tsonga ousted Hewitt 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 (7/2).
France's reward was a last eight clash with Germany, who took an unbeatable 3-0 lead over five-time former champions Spain in Frankfurt earlier Saturday.
That quarter-final is scheduled for April 4-6.
Tommy Haas and Philipp Kohlschreiber needed nearly three and a half hours to seal a 7-6(7/5), 6-7(9/11), 7-6(9/7), 6-3 over Spain's Fernando Verdasco and David Marrero.
Kohlschreiber and Florian Mayer had given the hosts a 2-0 overnight lead.
Switzerland's all important point was delivered by the pairing of Marco Chiudinelli and Michael Lanmer, who saw off Nenad Zimonjic and Filip Krajinovic 6-6 (7/3), 3-6, 6-6 (7/2), 6-2.
The Swiss took control of the tie in Novi Sad on Friday when Roger Federer, yet to add the Davis Cup trophy to his array of silverware, and freshly crowned Australian champion Stanislas Wawrinka, won both of their singles.
Federer, a last-minute addition to the Swiss team, won through 6-4, 7-5, 6-2 against 268th-ranked Ilija Bozoljac on the hard court surface in Novi Sad.
Serbia were weakened by the absence of star turns Novak Djokovic and Janko Tipsarevic.
Tired from his exploits in the heat of Melbourne Wawrinka nevertheless stepped up to battle past 102nd ranked Dusan Lajovic 6-4, 4-6, 6-1, 7-6 (9/7).
"It was a great team effort and I couldn't be happier," said Swiss captain Severin Luthi.
Serbian counterpart Bogdan Obradovic said: "It was a tough weekend for us because we missed our best players and I hope to have them back for the September playoff, because we will need our strongest team to stay in the top tier." The Swiss will meet either Kazakhstan or Belgium who are playing in Astana with the hosts leading 2-1.
On the hardcourt of the CEZ Arena in the eastern city of Ostrava, Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek handed the defending champions the Czech Republic a 2-1 lead after winning the doubles rubber.
The Czechs however needed three hours and 57 minutes to beat Robin Haase and Jean-Julien Rojer 7-5, 1-6, 7-6 (7/2), 7-6 (7/4).
Berdych and Stepanek, who led the Czech Republic to Davis Cup titles in 2012 and 2013, have won the 15th of their 16 Davis Cup doubles rubbers together.
"I have the best partner in the world," said Stepanek.
"We have a great chemistry between each other and we always back each other up." In San Diego, Bob and Mike Bryan delivered a crucial doubles victory to keep the United States alive against Great Britain.
The Bryan brothers beat Colin Fleming and Dominic Inglot 6-2, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 to pull the Americans within 1-2.
World number six Andy Murray, who got the ball rolling for Britain with a dominant victory over Davis Cup newcomer Donald Young on Friday, will get the first chance to clinch the tie when he takes on US leader Sam Querrey on Sunday.
Murray, who had back surgery in September, had been tentatively slated for doubles duty. But British captain Leon Smith opted to use Inglot instead and send Murray fresh into battle against Querrey, who was stunned in five sets on Friday by James Ward.
The winners in San Diego will next face either Italy or Argentina.
Italy took a 2-1 lead in their tie in Mar del Plata after Fabio Fognini and Simone Bolelli beat Eduardo Schwank and Horacio Zeballos 6-7 (6/8), 7-6 (10/8), 7-6 (7/3), 6-4 in a four-hour marathon.
Japan lead last year's semi-finalists Canada 2-1 in Tokyo after a fired-up Kei Nishikori propelled the hosts to a doubles win as they bid for a quarter-final place for the first time since the 16-nation elite group format was introduced in 1981.