OSTRAVA, CZECH REPUBLIC: Andrey Golubev will begin Kazakhstan’s campaign to derail the Czech Republic in the opening rubber of its Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group first round tie in Ostrava.
The 23-year-old, ranked No.43 in the world, will face the home side’s Jan Hajek for only the second time in his career as he aims to put Kazakhstan on the board first in front of what is expected to be a sell-out home crowd.
“I played Hajek one time last year the same indoor hard surface,” said Golubev. “It was tough match I remember. Also play in Czech [will be tough]. I know when you play at home you want to give your all, but it’s the same for us, it’s the same for me, so I will give all my best on the court.”
In the second singles rubber on the opening day, Czech No.1 Tomas Berdych will take on Mikhail Kukushkin in their first competitive meeting. Davis Cup has been a consistent part of the world No.7’s season, helping the Czech team to the Davis Cup final in 2009 and the semifinals in 2010.
“I’m a part of the team since I made my first start in Thailand when I was 18,” said Berdych. “Since that time I just get so many experiences from that. I’m still holding it as really a top priority in my season.”
It will be Berdych’s first appearance at home since 2009, and, having reached the Wimbledon final last year, he is expecting some healthy support.
“We are back again in Czech, and I’m really looking forward to that,” continued Berdych. “My last year was great, and now I will have a chance to show the Czech crowd that I can play well again at home, so I’m really looking forward to that match.”
This weekend’s tie is the first meeting between the two nations in Davis Cup history, with Kazakhstan making its World Group debut. The Kazakhs whitewashed Switzerland last September to advance from Asia/Oceania Zone Group I, and will certainly not be taken lightly by their Czech opponents.
“It is a little bit different situation from the last three years, because we are the third country on the ranking,” explained Czech captain Jaroslav Navratil. “But Kazakhstan is a danger team, they are first time in first division, they beat at home Switzerland without Roger, but still with Wawrinka. They are good team, we have to be careful.”
“It’s really a good chance, it’s the result of the three years work of the whole team,” said Kazakhstan captain Yegor Shaldunov. “It is the best result of Kazakhstan tennis, and it means that we are not the last in the world. I think everybody is ready.”
Lukas Dlouhy, who replaced Radek Stepanek at the 11th hour, will pair up with Davis Cup debutante Jiri Vesely for the doubles against Evgeny Korolev and Yuriy Schukin on Saturday.
“It’s something special, because it will be the first time I play Davis Cup,” said Vesely, the junior world No.1. “I’m very happy for that, it’s a big experience for me, so I hope I can improve from this week, and that I will be in the team as a regular.”
The winner of this weekend’s tie will face the winner of Argentina v Romania in the quarterfinals.
The full draw is listed below.
R1: Jan Hajek (CZE) v Andrey Golubev (KAZ)
R2: Tomas Berdych (CZE) v Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ)
R3: Lukas Dlouhy / Jiri Vesely (CZE) v Yuriy Schukin / Evgeny Korolev (KAZ)
R4: Tomas Berdych (CZE) v Andrey Golubev (KAZ)
R5: Jan Hajek (CZE) v Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ)
Captain Jaroslav Navratil (CZE) - 03/03/2011
Jiri Vesely (CZE) - 03/03/2011
Andrey Golubev (KAZ) - 03/03/2011