Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic both completed comfortable wins to give their respective countries the early lead as the first round of the Davis Cup got under way on Friday.
Top-ranked Djokovic gave Serbia a 1-0 advantage over Kazakhstan after brushing aside Aleksandr Nedovyesov in the opening singles rubber, winning 6-1, 6-2, 6-3.
Nedovyesov was blown away in the first set but to his credit he put up much more of a fight in the second and third – though he never had the game to seriously trouble his champion opponent.
A boisterous home crowd in Belgrade spurred Djokovic on as he completed the victory in one hour and 55 minutes.
Serbia still have work to do to secure the tie, however, as Mikhail Kukushkin’s 7-5, 6-2, 6-4 win over Viktor Troicki in the second singles contest of the day tied the scores up at 1-1 heading into Saturday’s doubles match.
It was a similar story for Great Britain in their tie against Japan. Andy Murray dispatched Taro Daniel 6-1, 6-3, 6-1 with ease to give his side the early lead, but Kei Nishikori hit back for the Japanese, beating Daniel Evans 6-3, 7-5, 7-6 (7-5) to level the scores.
It was Murray’s first game back in action since his wife gave birth to their first child. Despite the five-week lay-off, however, he looked very comfortable on court.
“The last few weeks have been the best of my life. It’s been really special. It’s been a tough last few day being away from her [his daughter] for the first time, not easy. It’s a pleasure to come and represent my country and be with all the team-mates again.”
In other first-round results, Argentina took a 2-0 lead over Poland thanks to wins for Guido Pella and Leonardo Mayer.
Belgium and Croatia are tied at 1-1, David Goffin’s win over Borna Coric leveling the scores after Marin Cilic gave the Croats the early advantage.
France lead Canada 2-0 thanks to wins for Gael Monfils and Gilles Simon, while Germany and the Czech Republic are tied at 1-1.
Phillip Kohlschreiber beat Lukas Rosol to hand the Germans the lead, but Tomas Berdych hit back for the Czechs, prevailing in a marathon four-and-a-half-hour, five-set battle with Alexander Zverev.