ASTANA, KAZAKHSTAN: A spirited doubles performance by Julian Knowle and Alexander Peya has kept Austria alive in their Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group first round tie against Kazakhstan. The visitors now trail by two rubbers to one, after they beat Andrey Golubev and Yuri Schukin in straight sets.
It was a nervous opening from the home pair, who knew victory would be enough to book their place in the quarterfinals, as Golubev was broken in the very first service game of the match. However, the Kazakh duo began to find their feet and broke their opponents twice, in between being broken themselves and had a set point chance in the 10th game. The opener would eventually go to a tiebreak and it was the Austrians who held their nerve to win their first set of the tie, as Schukin netted a forehand following an excellent return by Peya.
“Winning the first set is always important, but especially as we had had lost our serve twice earlier. However, this was a best of five match-up and even had we lost that first set, then there would still have been a long way to go in the match,” said Knowle.
Knowle was the oldest player in either side at 38. Despite being at an age when most of his fellow professionals would have long since hung up their rackets, the Austrian doubles specialist showed excellent agility at the net and he was ably supported by his team-mate, Peya. It was this control from the net, which gave the visitors a significant advantage. Kazakhstan were very one dimensional, sitting on the baseline and Golubev admitted that with retrospect it would have been better had they mixed up their game.
“We tried to come in more, but the Austrians were coming into the net at the first possible opportunity. It was tough for us. We tried some lobs, or some change-ups on our serves. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t,” said the 25-year-old.
A single break was enough to hand Austria the second set, though the third would prove to be much tighter. Kazakhstan were really struggling to put pressure on their opponents serve but they still managed to take the set all the way to a tiebreak. It was the Austrian duo that coped better with the pressure and they would seal victory in just over two and a half hours as Golubev sent a wild forehand wide.
Both Austrian players are ranked within the top 30 for doubles, in comparison to their Kazakh opponents who are some 200 places below them in the rankings, and Peya admitted that the visitor’s continuity and understanding proved crucial in the end.
“They played really well today. They are not typical doubles players. They stayed at the baseline a lot, but they hit heavy balls. Their serve was great but we didn’t do much wrong. We were consistent over the three sets and I think we deserved to win.”
Golubev suffered his first ever Davis Cup defeat at home, but Kazakhstan are still in a strong position and the Russian born Kazakh will have the chance to seal the tie on Sunday as he plays Jurgen Melzer in the first of the reverse singles.
Andrey Golubev/Yuriy Schukin (KAZ) - 02/02/13
Captain Clemens Trimmel (AUT) - 02/02/13
Julian Knowle/Alexander Peya (AUT) - 02/02/13