The Play-Off matches for 2018 Davis Cup World Group are underway and the result is all squared in 6 out of 8 ties so far, which guarantees exciting battles in the rest of the weekend. In Astana, Mikhail Kukushkin prevailed against Guido Pella by 6-7(5) 7-6(5) 6-2 6-4 in just under 4 hours to put Kazakhstan in the lead against Argentina. The first two sets were very close and the Argentine was 2 points away from 2 sets to love lead, only to lose the last 2 points in the second set tie break, which was a game changer.
Mikhail sailed through the third set and he scored 2 breaks in the 4th to bring the victory home. In the second match, Diego Schwartzman was too strong for Dmitry Popko, beating him 6-4 6-2 6-2 in 2 hours, converting 6 out of 10 break points to control the scoreboard from start to finish.
The first set was decided by a single break and a much better-ranked player scored 5 breaks in the next 2 sets to clinch the win and level the overall score before doubles action. Hungarian Marton Fucsovics has had some great results this season and he entered the Top 100 in July.
Playing in front of his partisan crowd, Marton defeated the US Open quarter-finalist Andrey Rublev by 6-2 6-4 5-7 2-6 6-3 in 3 hours and 25 minutes to give Hungary the lead over Russia. Marton was more effective on his second serve and he broke Andrey 7 times from 16 opportunities.
Russian broke his rival 5 times from 11 chances he created, and that wasn't enough for an overall triumph. Home player was off to a flying start, taking the opening set by 6-2 and sweeping the final 12 points of the set.
A break in game 7 of the second set gave Fuscovics 2 sets to love lead, he saved 2 break points in the next game and closed the set with a hold at love, moving closer to the finish line. Rublev recovered his game in the second set to be more competitive and he broke for the second time in game 12 to grab the set by 7-5 and prolong his chances.
They were even bigger when he clinched the 4th set by 6-2, sending the match into a decider with breaks in games 2 and 8. Players exchanged breaks earlier in the final set and it was Marton who saved more strength for the closing games, rattling off the last 4 to score a great win and earn the first point for his country.
Karen Khachanov brought the much-needed point for Russia, coming from behind to oust Attila Balazs 3-6 6-2 7-6 6-1. Pumped after that opening match and great performance form his teammate, Balazs broke Khachanov twice in the first set for a 6-3 before Karen responded with better tennis in set number 2 to make the result even.
Attila was 4-2 up in the third set but they traded 3 breaks in the next 4 games to stay locked up at 5-5, entering the tie break. It was a crazy one and Karen won it by 14-12, saving 2 set points and converting his 6th to take a very important lead.
Balazs had nothing more left in the tank, winning just 8 points in the 4th set and dropping serve in games 2 and 6 to end on the losing side. Khachanov won 12 out of the last 13 points to bring the match home in style, helping Russia to wait for the doubles match without a huge pressure that would be on if he had lost this one.