TOKYO: Kei Nishikori teamed up with Yuichi Sugita in a dominant doubles victory as Japan completed a 3-0 defeat of Ukraine to return to the Davis Cup's top table Saturday.
The world number five looked sharp as the Japanese pair ran out easy 6-3, 6-0, 6-3 winners over Artem Smirnov and Sergiy Stakhovsky in Osaka to give the home side an unassailable lead in the World Group playoff with only two rubbers remaining.
Nishikori sat out Friday's opening singles following his exertions over the summer as Taro Daniel and Yoshihito Nishioka put Japan in firm control of the tie.
But his presence was felt in the doubles as the Japanese ran riot, giving Sugita the perfect present ahead of his 28th birthday on Sunday, when the final two matches will now be abbreviated dead rubbers.
"The return was key for us today," said Nishikori, who won bronze at the Rio Olympics before reaching the US Open semi-finals earlier this month.
"We had never played together before and we had to change some things during the match," he added.
"Neither of us are the best net players but our groundstrokes did the job. The second set we were on fire -- we made a lot of returns and they were struggling with their service."