Davis Cup Finals: Kazakhstan edges the Netherlands to lead Group E

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Davis Cup Finals: Kazakhstan edges the Netherlands to lead Group E

In the first clash of the Group E at the first edition of the Davis Cup Finals in Madrid, Kazakhstan defeated the Netherlands 2-1 to top the standings. Mikhail Kukushkin needed 64 minutes to dismiss the debutant Botic Van de Zandschulp 6-2, 6-2 and push his country in front with the 26th Davis Cup singles triumph.

Mikhail lost only 11 points behind the initial shot, never facing a break point and stealing the rival's serve four times from five opportunities to seal the deal in no time at all. Settling into a fine rhythm right from the start, the Kazakh rattled off five straight games to take the opener 6-2, extending the streak in set number two where he opened a 2-0 lead.

Mikhail confirmed the victory with another break in game seven, sealing the deal on his serve in the next game to push Kazakhstan ahead. Robin Haase delivered the 28th Davis Cup singles victory, prevailing over Alexander Bublik 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 in two hours and 12 minutes.

It was a very tight clash with one break on each side, with Haase who grabbed the first set with a late break at 5-5. Bublik responded with a break in the fourth game of the second set, surviving a tough service game at 5-3 to set up a decider where he had to play against a match point at 4-5.

Fending it off, the young Kazakh wasted a break chance in the next game, staying in touch with Robin until 5-5 in the tie break when the Dutchman earned the pivotal mini-break and sealed the deal on his serve to level the overall score at 1-1.

In the deciding doubles rubber, Mikhail Kukushkin and Alexander Bublik toppled Robin Haase and Jean-Julien Rojer 6-4, 7-6 in 76 minutes, never facing a break point and prevailing in the crucial moments to wrap the rubber up in straight sets and deliver the first victory for Kazakhstan at the Davis Cup Finals.