SPAIN TENNIS DAVIS CUP
Hosts Spain have progressed to the last eight of the Davis Cup finals but elsewhere it proved a more arduous day for players, organisers and fans.
Not even some late heroics - well past 4am local time - were enough to keep the United States from being eliminated.
World No.1 Rafael Nadal sealed top spot in Group B for Spain as he crushed Croatia's Borna Gojo 6-4 6-3 to give his side an unassailable 2-0 lead after Roberto Bautista Agut had beaten Nikola Mektic 6-1 6-3.
Defeat ended a miserable few days at La Caja Magica for reigning champions Croatia, who without Marin Cilic are out of contention with two losses.
Novak Djokovic, who Nadal pipped to the year-end top ranking, helped get Serbia up and running with an easy win over Yoshihito Nishioka as they beat Japan 3-0 in Group A.
Serbia's tie against France on Thursday will decide the winner of the group.
"With all respect to Japan, we always knew it was a big possibility that it might come down to France and Serbia," Djokovic said.
Great Britain endured a tough opening day of their campaign as they scraped past the Netherlands 2-1 in a Group E tie that spanned nearly nine hours.
Andy Murray returned to Davis Cup action for the first time since 2016 and was pushed to the brink against 179th-ranked Dutchman Tallon Griekspoor, clawing back from a 4-1 deficit in the deciding set to win 6-7 (7-9) 6-4 7-6 (7-5).
The 32-year-old Murray, who returned to singles from hip surgery in June, looked spent at the end of a brutal match as he took his record in Davis Cup singles rubbers to 31-3.
He later admitted he was not in the best physical shape.
"If you're weighing four or five kilos more than you're used to, that is probably going to affect how you feel moving around," Murray said.
Robin Haase recovered from a set down to beat Dan Evans but Britain emerged victorious as Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski beat Wesley Koolhof and Jean-Julien Rojer 6-4 7-6 (8-6), saving two set points in the second set.
Britain will face Kazakhstan on Thursday with the winners moving through to the quarter-finals.
They beat Italy 2-1 after a doubles match that ended past 4am local time, the second latest finish in tennis history - Lleyton Hewitt's victory over Marcos Baghdatis at the 2008 Australian Open ended later, past 4:30am.
Sam Querrey and Jack Sock won the decisive doubles match 7-6 (7-4) 6-7 (2-7) 6-4 against Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini, but it wasn't enough to send the Americans through as one of the two-best second-place finishers from the six groups.
The Group F tie started two hours late after Germany's 3-0 Group C defeat of Argentina ran longer than expected.