Tennis: Yuichi Sugita helps Japan preserve their Davis Cup world group status

Yuichi Sugita of Japan returns the ball to Guilherme Clezar of Brazil during the first tennis match of Davis Cup World Group playoff in Osaka on Sept 15, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

Osaka, Japan (AFP) - Yuichi Sugita thrashed Thiago Monteiro on Monday as Japan kept their Davis Cup world group status by wrapping up a comfortable play-off victory over Brazil in Osaka.

Celebrating his 29th birthday, world No. 42 Sugita thrashed Monteiro 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 to give the home side an unassailable 3-1 lead in the best-of-five tie after Brazil had given themselves a lifeline by winning the doubles.

Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares overpowered Yasutaka Uchiyama and New Zealand-born Ben McLachlan 7-6, 6-4, 6-2 in a rubber match that delayed by 48 hours because of heavy rain over the weekend with Japan on the brink of victory.

But Sugita, who became only the third Japanese man after Shuzo Matsuoka and Kei Nishikori to capture an ATP Tour title in Turkey two months ago, produced a clinical display to dash Brazilian hopes of a comeback in the reverse singles.

Japan took a 2-0 lead after Friday's opening singles when Sugita beat Guilherme Clezar 6-2, 7-5, 7-6 and Go Soeda squeezed past Thiago Monteiro in five sets.

The teams agreed to scratch Soeda's dead rubber against Clezar.

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