BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA: Argentina stormed into a commanding 2-0 lead on day one of their Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group quarterfinal tie against Kazakhstan, courtesy of routine straight sets wins for Juan Monaco and Juan Martin del Potro.
Monaco got the hosts off to the perfect start by defeating Kazakhstan’s No. 1 player, Andrey Golubev, 63 60 64 in the opening rubber, and then del Potro followed suit as he cruised past Mikhail Kukushkin 62 61 62.
After watching his teammate come up against little resistance, del Potro encountered a similar match in his first Davis Cup appearance for two years, a lay-off caused by a wrist injury that has plagued him for long periods since winning the US Open in 2009.
Friday’s doubles rubber is scheduled to see Juan Ignacio Chela and Eduardo Schwank, who reached the last 16 at Wimbledon together last week, take on Yuriy Schukin and Evgeny Korolev. A win for the Argentine duo would see their team book a place in the semifinals.
Argentina and Kazakhstan have begun their tie on Thursday, a day earlier than originally scheduled, because of a would-be clash with government elections in Buenos Aires, which take place on Sunday.
The ‘Tower’ is back for good
There is not much to say when a player loses only five games to collect a win, especially when it happens in a best-of-five sets match, as in Davis Cup. Besides a few games where DelPo had to fight hard to hold serve, he was a hurricane on court, impossible to handle for Kukushkin.
“I’m very happy,” said del Potro. “I had many different sensations playing here, in front of the crowd, and also in front of my family and friends. They have supported me all the time, on and out court. It’s very nice for everyone. I think the circle is close now.
“I tried to be in good shape as soon as I can. It’s a long road but I’m still trying to improve my game. I’m having a good season so far and still remains the hard court season, which I like a lot. I think it could be a nice year if I finish Top 10.”
He also pointed out that “Kukushkin played really well. I think the score is in fact a bit of a lie.” A modest statement from de Potro after dropping just five games.
Monaco battles through cold
In cold conditions at Parque Roca’s Mary Teran de Weiss stadium, the match between Monaco and Golubev was only an even contest until the Argentine broke his opponent’s serve for the first time in the sixth game of the opening set to take a 4-2 lead, serving the next game. Monaco went on to secure the first set.
In fact, we can say that the match ended there. Monaco stormed to win the second set and take advantage in the third by winning nine games in a row. Golubev was only able to make the match last a little longer by reducing the unforced errors (a total of 72) and holding his serve until the end of the journey.
“It was a perfect day for me,” said Monaco. “All the things I tried worked perfectly well. I played unbelievable every break point, all the time. I think it could have been my best Davis Cup match so far.”
Monaco has now won all three encounters with Golubev. Curiously, all of them happened this season and all on clay. The previous ones were at the World Team Championship in Dusseldorf, and the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event in Madrid.
Tough day for Kazakhs
It was a hard day for Kazakhstan’s hopes as both singles players together could only get 12 games in total.
“I played bad and he played good,” said Golubev. “So, it wasn’t a good day. I made a lot of mistakes due to my aggressive game. I tried to make points by myself, not waiting for him to give bonuses. With the court humid is difficult to make winners. I don’t think it was more difficult than I expected. We all knew it was going to be hard from the beginning.”
Although Kukushkin was the only Kazakh player breaking an opponent’s serve during the first day, against Del Potro he won even less games than Golubev over Monaco.
“I lost against a very good player, he showed how he can play in this level,” said Kukushkin. “I had some good moments, but he did better than me and that’s why he won. He has no weaknesses, he even moves very well. I could only return his serve a couple of times when he faced break points.”
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Juan Monaco (ARG) - 07/07/2011
Andrey Golubev (KAZ) - 07/07/2011
Juan Martin del Potro (ARG) - 07/07/2011
Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ) - 07/07/2011