DARWIN: Mikhail Kukushkin and Aleksandr Nedovyesov gave Kazakhstan a commanding 2-0 lead over hosts Australia after the opening singles of their Davis Cup World Group quarter-final in Darwin on Friday.
Kukushkin gave the Kazakhs the early momentum with a straight-set 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 win over teenager Thanasi Kokkinakis in just over two hours.
World number 115 Nedovyesov then stunned the 41-ranked Nick Kyrgios 7-6 (7/5), 6-7 (2/7), 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 to put Kazakhstan on the brink of reaching the Davis Cup semi-finals for the first time.
It was Kyrgios’ first loss in three matches on grass in the competition.
Australia must win Saturday’s doubles encounter to keep the tie alive in Sunday’s reverse singles.
Kyrgios, who was heavily criticised by the Australian media amid claims of “tanking” during his fourth-round loss to Frenchman Richard Gasquet at Wimbledon, and also for arguing with umpires and sarcasm during his press conferences, admitted the loss had left him drained.
“Physically, I felt OK. I felt like my body was good. But mentally, I almost felt a bit drained out there,” said Kyrgios. “It was hard to focus. It was hard to dig deep. It was hard to push myself because a lot has gone on.”
Spain on song in Vladivostok
Tommy Robredo and Pablo Andujar gave long haul travellers Spain a 2-0 lead against Russia after the first day of the Davis Cup Group One Euro-African Zone second round tie in Vladivostok on Friday.
Five-time former Davis Cup titleholders Spain made the 13,000 kilometre trip from Madrid to the city near Russia’s border with North Korea and China without stars David Ferrer and Rafael Nadal.
But veteran Robredo got Spain off to a perfect start by beating Russian teenager Andrey Rublev 6-2, 6-3, 6-3 in two hours.
“It was much tougher than you’d think looking at the scoreline,” said Robredo. “Towards the end it was very hard to keep my concentration and energy because of the high humidity here in Vladivostok. But my teammates’ support helped me a lot.”
Andujar then dispatched Karen Khachanov 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 to put his team, now coached by former Wimbledon champion Conchita Martinez after Gala Leon was sacked off, firmly in control.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 18th, 2015.
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