Croatia, Japan even in Davis Cup World Group

Ivo Karlovic beat Kei Nishikori 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 Friday to give

Croatia a split against Japan in the first round of the Davis


Karlovic overpowered Nishikori with 18 aces in the day’s second

singles in World Group play. In the first match, Japan’s Go Soeda

rallied past Ivan Dodig 6-7 (3), 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, 7-5.

Nishikori became the first Japanese man to reach the

quarterfinals of the Australian Open since the Open era began in

1968, but struggled against the big-serving Croatian.

Japan is in the World Group for the first time in 26 years.

In Saturday’s doubles of the best-of-five series, Karlovic and

Lovro Zovko play Tatsuma Ito and Yuichi Sugita. In Sunday’s reverse

singles, it’s Nishikori vs. Dodig and Soeda vs. Karlovic.