ASTANA: Outsiders Kazakhstan stayed alive in their Davis Cup quarterfinal against holders Czech Republic after winning the doubles rubber yesterday.
The Czechs were looking to wrap up the tie after winning both of their singles matches on Friday, but Andrey Golubev and Yuri Schukin stunned Radek Stepanek and Jan Hajek 7-6, 6-4, 6-3 to take the contest into a third day.
Stepanek, who had not played since undergoing neck surgery in January to relieve stress on a nerve, teamed up with Hajek for the first time after his regular doubles partner Tomas Berdych pulled out of the indoor tie in Astana with a shoulder injury.
After losing the first set in a tie-breaker 7-2, the Czechs were gradually outplayed by the newly-made pair of Golubev and Schukin, who also won their previous doubles encounter in Davis Cup by beating Austria at the same venue in February.
Kazakhstan are now hoping for another shock victory over the Czechs after beating them 3-2 in their only previous Davis Cup encounter in Ostrava in 2011 when they made their debut in the World Group as an independent nation.
Today, Czech Lukas Rosol is scheduled to meet 156th-ranked Mikhail Kukushkin in the first reverse singles while Hajek must face Golubev in the last rubber, but visiting captain Jaroslav Navratil said he might alter the plan.
The winner of tie faces France or Argentina, who are tied 1-1 after the first day of their quarterfinal, in the semifinals in September.
Djokovic successfully blunted the powerful serve of towering American John Isner to win 7-6, 6-2, 7-5 and provide Serbia with the perfect start in Idaho.
But Querrey, who only recently became America’s top ranked player, battled his way back from a set down to defeat Victor Troicki 7-6, 3-6, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4.
“These kind of matches are very intense and there is a lot at stake,” said Djokovic.
“You’re playing for your country. You get more involved with the emotions and you really want to start well.” Jo-Wilfried Tsonga overcame Carlos Berlocq 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 5-7, 6-2 to give France the early lead over Argentina but Monaco, ranked 19th in the world, ensured the tie remained wide open after he won the second singles.
“We have taken one point, we need two more,” Argentine captain Martin Jaite said.
Raonic cracked 25 aces to defeat Fabio Fognini 6-4, 7-6, 7-5 in Vancouver after Seppi fought back from two sets behind to beat lowly-ranked Vasek Pospisal 5-7 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3.