Even in their wildest dreams, no one from the Kazakhstan Davis Cup team could have predicted what has unfolded in Astana over the last three days. The central Asia nation, playing their first ever play-off, thrashed Switzerland 5-0 to propel them into the World Group for the first time in the country’s history.
“Before the match we couldn’t even have dreamt that we would win the tie 3-0, as we were playing a strong team in Switzerland. But before the tie we said we would be thoroughly prepared and every player would give 150 percent, so that’s why I think we managed to win in just two days,” said Andrey Golubev.
Switzerland would have been confident coming into the tie, with both Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka managing to make at least the quarterfinals at the US Open. A little of that optimism may have evaporated after the world No. 3 decided not to make the trip, but nevertheless the visitors would still have been confident of preserving their World Group status for another year.
Golubev stars for Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan had other ideas, and in Andrey Golubev they had by far the player of the tie at their disposal. The world No. 39 got the ball rolling, playing some exceptional tennis, in managing to beat Marco Chiudinelli in straight sets.
If that result went according to the form book, the second rubber certainly didn’t. Stanislaw Wawrinka faced Mikhail Kukushkin; a player the Swiss had beaten as little as a couple of weeks ago in the first round at Flushing Meadows. It was evident from the outset there was to be no repeat, as the Kazakh fought for every point, and would eventually take victory in five sets to record what he said was, “the biggest victory of my career.”
Suddenly Switzerland was staring into the abyss after losing both opening singles matches. Despite drafting Wawrinka in to play the doubles, there was to be no way back for the visitors, as the home side’s pairing of Golubev and Yury Schukin played a very intelligent match to give Kazakhstan an unassailable 3-0 lead, and they would put the icing on the cake by winning both reverse singles matches, to complete a 5-0 whitewash.
Luthi pays tributes to Kazakhs
Massive disappointment for Switzerland, but their Davis Cup captain, Serevin Luthi says his team certainly didn’t underestimate their opponents, while he was particularly impressed with the performances of Golubev and Kukushkin.
“We came here to win, and now we are in the Europe/Africa zone again. We are not very happy with the result, but we have to accept that the Kazakh team was the better side this week.”
Kazakhstan now moves through to the world group, and if Andrey Golubev, who was outstanding over the tie, can continue his rapid progress, they will be a tough team to beat. Kazakhstan will find out their opponent following Wednesday’s draw, and if they get a home tie, there aren’t going to be many teams relishing the frosty reception they’ll get in Astana, especially with the temperature outdoors likely to be around the minus 20 mark.