Kazakhstan keep hopes alive against Czechs

ALMATY - Andrey Golubev and Yuriy Schukin defeated Czech pair Jan Hajek and Radek Stepanek in Saturday's doubles in Astana to keep Kazakhstan's hopes of reaching the Davis Cup semi-finals alive.The hosts won 7-6 (7/2), 6-4, 6-3 in two hours 20 minutes to make it 2-1 in their quarter-final encounter against the tournament holders. "It was a hard match but it makes the victory even sweeteer," Schukin said. "We had to battle hard for every single point in such a tight match. We're happy to beat the Davis Cup champions and continue our fight for a place in the semi-finals." Hajek and Stepanek were playing together for the first time, and they lost the opening set in a tiebreak after both pairs had exchanged breaks. The decisive moment in the second set arrived in the ninth game when Golubev and Schukin broke Stepanek's serve to take a two-set lead.The match was already almost two hours old heading into the third set, but the Czechs' resistence could not last much longer. An immediate break of Stepanek's serve helped Kazakhstan run away with the third set, and the tie will now be decided on Sunday, when Mikhail Kukushkin takes on Lukas Rosol before Golubev and Hajek are scheduled to meet in the final singles rubber. The winners of the tie will face Argentina or France in the semi-finals of the nations tournament. Argentina and France ended the opening day in Buenos Aires knotted at 1-1. Juan Monaco, ranked 19th in the world, cruised past 13th-ranked Gilles Simon 7-6 (7/2), 6-2, 6-4 on the clay courts at Parque Roca to even the tie after Jo-Wilfried Tsonga gained the first point for France.Tsonga, the world No. 8, labored three hours and 53 minutes to subdue Carlos Berlocq 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 5-7, 6-2. Tsonga was a heavy favorite against 71st-ranked Berlocq, but the Argentinian was buoyed by the home crowd of about 4,500. Berlocq, 30, was firing on all cylinders from the baseline, and caught Tsonga off-guard with a string of drop shots en route to winning the first set. Tsonga, however, appeared on his way after taking the second and third sets, but Berlocq rallied from a break down to take the fourth before Tsonga reasserted himself in the fifth.In Boise, Idaho, World No. 1 Novak Djokovic got 2010 champions Serbia off to a fast start against the United States, with a 7-6 (7/5), 6-2, 7-5 victory over John Isner. But American Sam Querrey dug deep for a 7-6 (7/1), 3-6, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 victory over Viktor Troicki that let the hosts pull level at 1-1.Djokovic recovered from an early break in the opening set and took control from there. He saved the only break point he faced in the third set and broke Isner at love for a 6-5 advantage.He served out the match with a love game, wrapping it up in two hours with a backhand winner that sent him dancing over to celebrate with his teammates. Tasked with getting the tie back on terms, Querrey started strong, winning the first set and going up an early break in the second.But he let that advantage slip away and after dropping the second and third sets had to dig deep for a 7-6 (7/1), 3-6, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 victory. It was just the second five-set match victory of Querrey's career, and he finished it in style, breaking for a 5-4 lead in the fifth set and serving it out with a love game.The winners in Boise will take on either Canada or Italy, who were 1-1 after the first day of play in Vancouver. Andreas Seppi rallied from two sets down to beat Canadian Vasek Pospisil 5-7, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 in the opening match there.Seppi, Italy's top player ranked 18th in the world, kept his nerve, patiently battering away at Pospisil, ranked 140th. After going up a break in the third set he fended off a break point in the 10th game, holding to take the set. From there, Seppi was in control against the 22-year-old Pospisil, whose 46 unforced errors proved too much to overcome despite the fierce support of a partisan crowd. Milos Raonic pulled a point back for the hosts, firing 25 aces in a 6-4, 7-6 (7/4), 7-5 victory over Fabio Fognini.

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