Paris - World No 1 Novak Djokovic steered Serbia to the brink of the Davis Cup quarter-finals on Friday, easing past Belgium's Olivier Rochus on a makeshift court he described as the worst he's ever encountered.
Australian Open champion Djokovic needed just an hour and 39 minutes to beat 32-year-old Rochus 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 to give Serbia a 2-0 lead in their World Group first round tie after Viktor Troicki took five sets to defeat David Goffin.
Twenty-four hours earlier, Djokovic had lambasted the clay court laid out over the parquet floor at the Spiroudome de Charleroi.
"It's the worst court I have ever played on. It's very, very dangerous," raged the world's top player.
But the International Tennis Federation said that the court was playable, insisting that they had laid 12 temporary clay courts on wood since 2009 without problems.
"It wasn't easy playing on clay after a long time indoors and coming from Australia quite late," said Djokovic.
"At the start I had trouble with movement and getting used to the conditions but I managed to play my best tennis when I needed to."
Troicki battled back from two sets down against Goffin to win 1-6, 3-6, 7-6 (7/5), 6-4, 6-4 as Serbia, the 2010 champions, eyed reaching the World Group quarter-finals for a fourth consecutive year.
Sam Querrey and John Isner powered the 32-time champions, the United States, to a 2-0 lead over Brazil in Jacksonville, Florida.
Querrey fired 15 aces to beat Thomaz Bellucci 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 in the opener.
Isner, who missed the Australian Open with a knee injury, then pounded 32 aces past Thiago Alves in a 6-3, 7-6 (7/4), 6-3 victory.
With their formidable doubles duo of Bob and Mike Bryan due up on Saturday the United States looked to be in prime position to advance to face either Belgium or Serbia.
Spain, winners three times in the last five years, were on the ropes in Vancouver where Canada seized a 2-0 lead over the injury-depleted visitors, who were making do without Rafael Nadal, David Ferrer and Nicolas Almagro.
Milos Raonic got Canada off on the right foot with a 6-7 (5/7), 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Albert Ramos, and Canadian veteran Frank Dancevic needed just one hour and 48 minutes to beat Marcel Granollers 6-1, 6-2, 6-2.
The winner of the tie will face either Italy or Croatia.
Marin Cilic gave Croatia a 1-0 lead in Turin with a 6-1, 6-7 (6/8), 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 win over Paolo Lorenzi who had replaced flu-hit Fabio Fognini.
But Andreas Seppi pulled Italy level with a 6-2, 6-7 (2-7), 6-4, 6-4 win over Ivan Dodig.
France took a commanding 2-0 lead over Israel in Rouen as Arnaud Clement made his debut as national coach.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the world No 8, beat Amir Weintraub 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 7-5 before world No 10 Richard Gasquet breezed past Dudi Sela 6-3, 6-2, 6-2.
Defending champions, the Czech Republic, finished the day in Geneva at 1-1 against Switzerland.
Stanislas Wawrinka, the Swiss team's No 1 in the absence of Roger Federer, saw off Lukas Rosol, the shock conqueror of Nadal at Wimbledon last year, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4.
World No 6 Tomas Berdych then defeated Finland-born Henri Laaksonen 6-3, 6-2, 6-7 (5/7), 6-1.
The winners of that tie will meet either Kazakhstan or Austria in the last eight.
Kazakhstan led 2-0 after the opening day in Astana with Andrey Golubev beating Andreas Haider-Maurer 7-6 (7/2), 6-3, 7-6 (7/5) and Evgeny Korolov seeing off the experienced Jurgen Melzer 7-6 (7/4), 6-3, 6-2.
Argentina took a 2-0 lead over Germany in dramatic circumstances in Buenos Aires.
Carlos Berlocq claimed the first point when Philipp Kohlschreiber was forced to quit in the final set because of a thigh injury with the score standing at 3-6, 7-5, 2-6, 6-4, 4-5.
Argentina, playing without Juan Martin del Potro, took a firmer grip when Juan Monaco got past Florian Mayer 6-7 (4/7), 6-3, 6-3, 6-4.
Davis Cup World Group first round results this weekend:
At Vancouver - hardcourt (indoors)
Canada 2 Spain 0
Milos Raonic (CAN) bt Albert Ramos (ESP) 6-7 (5/7), 6-4, 6-4, 6-4
Frank Dancevic (CAN) bt Marcel Granollers (ESP) 6-1, 6-2, 6-2
Daniel Nestor/Vasek Pospisil (CAN) v Marcel Granollers/ Marc Lopez (ESP)
Milos Raonic (CAN) v Marcel Granollers (ESP)
Frank Dancevic (CAN) v Albert Ramos (ESP)
At Turin - clay (indoors)
Italy 1 Croatia 1
Marin Cilic (CRO) bt Paolo Lorenzi (ITA) 6-1, 6-7 (6/8), 4-6, 6-3, 6-2
Andreas Seppi (ITA) bt Ivan Dodig (CRO) 6-2, 6-7 (2/7), 6-4, 6-4
Simone Bolelli/Paolo Lorenzi (ITA) v Mate Pavic/Nikola Mektic (CRO)
Andreas Seppi (ITA) v Marin Cilic (CRO)
Paolo Lorenzi (ITA) v Ivan Dodig (CRO)
At Charleroi - clay (indoors)
Belgium 0 Serbia 2
Viktor Troicki (SRB) bt David Goffin (BEL) 1-6, 3-6, 7-6 (7/5), 6-4, 6-4
Novak Djokovic (SRB) bt Olivier Rochus (BEL) 6-3, 6-2, 6-2
Steve Darcis/Ruben Bemelmans (BEL) v Viktor Troicki/Nenad Zimonic (SRB)
David Goffin (BEL) v Novak Djokovic (SRB)
Olivier Rochus (BEL) v Viktor Troicki (SRB)
At Jacksonville - hard (indoors)
USA 2 Brazil 0
Sam Querrey (USA) bt Thomaz Bellucci (BRA) 6-3, 6-4, 6-4
John Isner (USA) bt Thiago Alves (BRA) 6-3, 7-6 (7/4), 6-3
Bob Bryan/Mike Bryan (USA) v Bruno Soares/Marcelo Melo (BRA)
John Isner (USA) v Thomaz Belucci (BRA)
Sam Querrey (USA) v Thiago Alves (BRA)
At Rouen - hard (indoors)
France 2 Israel 0
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) bt Amir Weintraub (ISR) 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 7-5
Richard Gasquet (FRA) bt Dudi Sela (ISR) 6-3, 6-2, 6-2
Michael Llodra/Julien Benneteau (FRA) v Dudi Sela/Jonathan Erlich (ISR)
Richard Gasquet (FRA) v Amir Weintraub (ISR)
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) v Dudi Sela (ISR)
At Buenos Aires - clay (outdoors)
Argentina 2 Germany 0
Carlos Berlocq (ARG) bt Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) 3-6, 7-5, 2-6, 6-4, 4-5 - retired
Juan Monaco (ARG) bt Florian Mayer (GER) 6-7 (4/7), 6-3, 6-3, 6-4
David Nalbandian/Horacio Zeballos (ARG) v Christopher Kas/Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER)
Juan Monaco (ARG) v Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER)
Carlos Berlocq (ARG) v Florian Mayer (GER)
At Astana - clay (indoors)
Kazakhstan 2 Austria 0
Andrey Golubev (KAZ) bt Andreas Haider-Maurer (AUT) 7-6 (7/2), 6-3, 7-6 (7/5)
Evgeny Korolov (KAZ) bt Jurgen Melzer (AUT) 7-6 (7/4), 6-3, 6-2
Andrey Golubev/Yuriy Schukin (KAZ) v Julian Knowle/Alexander Peya (AUT)
Andrey Golubev (KAZ) v Jurgen Melzer (AUT)
Evgeny Korolev (KAZ) v Andreas Haider-Maurer (AUT)
At Geneva - hard (indoors)
Switzerland 1 Czech Republic 1
Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI) bt Lukas Rosol (CZE) 6-4, 6-3, 6-4
Tomas Berdych (CZE) bt Henri Laaksonen (SUI) 6-3, 6-2, 6-7 (5/7), 6-1
Stanislas Wawrinka/Marco Chiudinelli (SUI) v Ivo Minar/Jiri Vesely (CZE)
Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI) v Tomas Berdych (CZE)
Henri Laaksonen (SUI) v Lukas Rosol (CZE)