Spain into ATP Cup quarters after Bautista Agut victory

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              Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain serves to Go Soeda of Japan during their match at the ATP Cup in Perth, Australia, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Trevor Collens)
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PERTH, Australia (AP) — Spain advanced to the quarterfinals of the ATP Cup even before Rafael Nadal stepped on to the court Wednesday at the Perth Arena.

Spain, which won the Davis Cup in Madrid with a victory over Canada, stayed in the hunt for its second international team victory in seven weeks when Roberto Bautista Agut beat Go Soeda of Japan 6-2, 6-4.

Japan needed to beat Spain 3-0 in order for the Nadal-led team not to advance to the Final Eight in Sydney beginning Thursday. Nadal later had a 7-6 (4), 6-4 win over 72nd-ranked Yoshihito Nishioka.

“I always enjoy sharing important moments with friends, and we had a lot of success during our entire careers playing for our country in Davis Cup,” Nadal said. “So for us it’s a good start, to be able to be qualified for Sydney already. The conditions will be different, and a three-hour time (difference). There’s a lot of things we need to adjust to, and the period of time to make it happen is very short.”

Previously winless Poland’s surprise victory over Austria eliminated fourth-ranked Dominic Thiem’s team. Hubert Hurkacz’s 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (5) victory over Thiem eliminated Austria after Kacper Zuk beat Dennis Novak 5-7, 7-6 (3), 6-3 in the opening match in Sydney.

In other matches on the final day of group play, already-qualified Serbia beat Chile in Group A. Dusan Lajovic beat Nicolas Jarry 6-2, 7-6 (3) before Novak Djokovic defeated Cristian Garin 6-3, 6-3.

The remaining quarterfinalists were decided later Wednesday: Argentina won Group E, Belgium was the first runner-up and Canada the second runner-up.

The quarterfinal lineup has Australia playing Britain and Argentina taking on Russia on Thursday. On Friday, Serbia plays Canada and Belgium takes on Spain, all at Ken Rosewall Arena at Sydney Olympic Park.

The semifinals are set for Saturday and the final on Sunday.