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27 May 2011

Pre-tie analysis: Argentina v Kazahstan


NEWS ARTICLE

David Nalbandian (ARG) and Andrey Golubev (KAZ)


Argentina hosts Kazakhstan in the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group quarterfinals in Buenos Aires on 7-9 July. The two nations begin their clash one day ahead of the other last eight ties due to government elections taking place in Argentina on 10 July.


Road to quarterfinals

Tito Vazquez’s men defeated Romania 4-1 on the familiar red clay of the Parque Roca in Buenos Aires. An injured David Nalbandian battled through the pain barrier to win the opening rubber, paving the way for a comfortable victory for the South Americans and a place in the quarterfinals for the 10th straight year.

 

The World Group new boys enjoyed a dream debut in Davis Cup’s top tier by recording a narrow 3-2 away win over Czech Republic in Ostrava. Trailing 2-1 going into the final day, Andrey Golubev and Mikhail Kukushkin held their nerve in the reverse singles rubbers to secure a famous victory for Kazakhstan.


Team leaders

David Nalbandian

The evergreen Nalbandian is Argentina’s talisman and needs to be fit and firing on all cylinders if his team has a chance to go all the way and claim a maiden title. The former world No. 3 loves playing Davis Cup and the competition frequently brings out the best in him.

Andrey Golubev

As the only Kazakh player ranked in the Top 50, Golubev will need to produce the goods in Buenos Aires for the away team to have a chance of recording a shock result. The 23 year-old may also be called upon to play doubles, in which case fitness could prove to be a factor.


Captains

Tito Vazquez

The experienced Vazquez is currently in his second stint as Argentina’s captain, having originally served as skipper during the 1980s. His current spell started in 2009 and his best performance came last year when he guided the team to the semifinals. He’s also been captain of Argentina’s Fed Cup team in the past.

Yegor Shaldunov

The Kazakh captain took charge in 2008 and led the team to the World Group this year for the first time ever. Under his guidance, the Kazakhs have compiled an impressive 6-1 win-loss record with their last three scalps being China, Switzerland and Czech Republic.


Keep an eye on...

Juan Martin del Potro

The former world No. 4’s last Davis Cup appearance was in July 2009, a couple of months before he claimed his sole Grand Slam title at the US Open. Having missed the majority of 2010 with a wrist injury, he is only just returning to full fitness and hasn’t yet confirmed his availability for this tie. Either way, the 22 year-old has a key role to play in Argentina’s long term success.

Mikhail Kukushkin

It’s unlikely Golubev will be able to do it all by himself, so Kazakhstan’s No. 2 player will need to chip in with a victory for the visitors to progress. If it comes down to another fifth rubber showdown, just as it did against the Czechs in March, Kukushkin can draw strength from his match-winning triumph over Jan Hajek.


Davis Cup pedigree

Argentina

Argentina’s Davis Cup history is a case of so close yet so far. The nation is one of only three, alongside Romania and India, to have reached more than one final without being crowned champion, having finished runner-up in 1981, 2006 and 2008.

Kazakhstan

The Kazakhs are adding to their Davis Cup pedigree right now, as this is their first foray into the last eight of the competition. Until 1994, players from Kazakhstan represented USSR and since becoming an independent nation they’ve gradually worked their way up from Group III.



Head-to-head

0 - 0

Argentina and Kazakhstan are meeting for the first time, therefore the choice of ground was decided by lot. The two No. 1s, Nalbandian and Golubev, have played each other once before when the Argentine claimed a straight sets win at the US Open in 2008.


Surface

Outdoor clay

The Argentines possess an impressive clay court record having lost just once on the dirt in over ten years. The Kazakhs, who always select hard as their surface of choice for home ties, have actually won their last three clay court fixtures on away soil, although none of the teams they played were in the same calibre as their next opponents.


Home and away

Argentina

Since 1998, the Argentines have lost just once at home, but unfortunately it was an important defeat as it arrived in the final against Spain in 2008. That still leaves them with an impressive 15-1 record over the last 13 years, and they’ll be favourites to improve this statistic against Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan

The Kazakh players have been good travellers of late, winning their last three ties on the road. Most of their time has been spent playing in Asia/Oceania Zone and therefore this is their first trip to South America

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