ASTANA, KAZAKHSTAN: Defending champion Czech Republic booked its place in the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas semifinals for the fourth time in five years after Lukas Rosol beat Kazakhstan’s Evgeny Korolev in a closely-fought four set encounter to clinch a 3-1 win.
Kazakhstan captain Dias Dosakarayev had decided to replace Mikhail Kukushkin with Korolev as he tried to plot a comeback after going 2-0 down on the opening day. Korolev, the world No. 187, fought hard against Rosol, ranked 124 places higher, but the big-serving Czech prevailed 76(5) 67(2) 76(5) 62 in three hours and 34 minutes.
After a 23 hour trip at the start of the week from Guadeloupe where he played in the Le Gosier Challenger, 27-year-old Rosol, who also beat Golubev on Friday, played a massive part in his country’s victory this weekend, which secures either a home tie against Argentina or an away trip to France in September’s semis.
Czech Republic captain Jaroslav Navratil said: “I am very proud of Lukas because it was one of the toughest matches for him as he does not have too many chances to play matches like this. He was the leader of the team this week.”
Victory for Golubev and Yuriy Schukin over Jan Hajek and Radek Stepanek in Saturday’s doubles had kept alive the home side’s hopes of reaching the semis for the first time, but it was a tough ask for Korolev, the 25-year-old who has fallen way down the rankings from his career-best No. 46 in 2010, to take the tie to a deciding rubber.
After failing to convert a break point in the first game, Korolev was put under pressure in his first service game as he faced four break points. He held on, though, and the set went to a tiebreak, in which Korolev double faulted at 5-5 before Rosol served his fifteenth ace of 31 in total to go a set up.
Korolev earned the first break of the match in the second set for 42 when a well-executed drop shot set up a break point on which Rosol hit long. The Kazakh faltered when serving to level the match at 53 but recovered in the tiebreak to earn a couple of early mini-breaks and then seal the set on his first set point of four with an ace.
With Korolev generally proving to be the stronger player the longer the rallies went on, Rosol’s confidence began to desert him and a lengthy game at 22 ended with Korolev making the breakthrough on his third break point as Rosol hit wide.
But once more, Korolev failed to serve out the set as Rosol hit a stunning forehand pass to pull it back to 55. The momentum shifted at this point and Rosol went 6-2 up in the tiebreak, hitting an ace on his fourth set point to edge closer to victory.
A double fault from Korolev to go a break down in the first game of the fourth set summed up how the Kazakh was feeling at this point. Rosol then went up a double break at 52 but showed signs of nerves when serving for the victory as he served consecutive double faults to go 0-30 down, before recovering and hitting a backhand winner on his first match point to seal the tie.
Rosol said: “I have never felt this feeling to make two points for your country in Davis Cup in one weekend. Tomas [Berdych] did it and now I know a little bit of this feeling.”
As the match was completed in four sets, both captains agreed not to play the final dead rubber.
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Lukas Rosol (CZE) - 07/04/2013
Captain Jaroslav Navratil (CZE) - 07/04/ 2013
Captain Dias Doskarayev (KAZ) - 07/04/2013