ASTANA – In the first round of the Davis Cup, Kazakhstan upset Belgium 3-2 at Astana’s National Tennis Centre on Feb. 2 to advance to the quarterfinals which will also take place in Astana in April.
Andrey Golubev, who has an ATP ranking of 87, clinched Kazakhstan’s victory by beating Belgium’s Ruben Bemelmans (161).
Kazakhstan led Belgium 2-0 after the first two matches, which saw Mikhail Kukushkin beat Ruben Bemelmans 6-4, 6-7 (3), 6-2, 6-3 and Golubev defeat David Goffin 7-6 (9), 3-6, 4-6, 6-2, 12-10.
However, the Belgian guests managed to come back, taking the doubles match 6-2, 6-7 (7), 6-3, 7-4 (7). Belgium’s top player, Goffin (108), also beat Kazakhstan’s top player Kukushkin (59), keeping Belgium’s chances alive with his three-hour, 16-minute win over Kukushkin. He controlled the fifth set, taking nearly two-thirds of the points with 22 winners among his 31 points won. Goffin was on the court for nearly eight hours in his two matches this weekend.
In the decisive match between Golubev and Bemelmans on Sunday, Feb. 2, with the score 2-2, the atmosphere was tense.
Showing no ill effects from the 4.5-hour battle against Goffin on Friday, Golubev beat Bemelmans 6-2, 6-3, 6-1 to claim the series.
Sunday was a much shorter appearance for Golubev as he took out Bemelmans in one hour, 39 minutes. He finished off the match with a break—his sixth of the day—and won his third try at match point.
Golubev won 73 percent of points on serve and didn’t face a break point after the first set. He won 80 percent of the points when he landed his first serve. He was 5-of-6 in break points until the final game, when Bemelmans fought off two match points before Golubev finally won.
The Kazakhs advance to the Davis Cup quarterfinals in April against Switzerland, which won the first three matches of its series this weekend against Serbia.
Upon learning the news of Kazakhstan’s becoming Switzerland’s opponent in the semifinals, Roger Federer, one of the world’s top players ranked at the eighth position currently, wrote a tongue-in-cheek comment in his Twitter account: “Joining my friends, captain Seve and STAN against KazakhSTAN in April!”
‘STAN’ means Stanislas Wawrinka who beat Rafael Nadal in Australian Open’s final in January 2014 to take the title and the world’s third rank along with it.