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Croatia vs Kazakhstan Davis Cup tennis news, matches and live stream: Marin Cilic storms past Mikhail Kukushkin to guide Croatia into semis

Leye Aduloju in News 13 Sep 2018
  • Croatia vs Kazakhstan Davis Cup tennis is live from Varazdin from 6-8 April
  • Marin Cilic storms past Mikhail Kukushkin to guide Croatia into semis
Marin Cilic. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

Marin Cilic stormed past Mikhail Kukushkin to guide Croatia into semi-finals of the Davis Cup for the second time in three years.

Croatia are seeking their second Davis Cup title, having previously won the team event in 2005. They came very close in 2016; but were stunned by Argentina in the final in Zagreb, where the hosts surrendered a 2-0 advantage. Croatia are looking to reach the semi-finals for the second time in the last three years, and they will be confident of their chances this weekend, with Marin Cilic and the in-form Borna Coric spearheading their challenge. 

With Cilic rested from singles’ action in the first round, Coric guided the Croats past Canada, beating both Vasek Pospisil and Denis Shapovalov in very impressive fashion.

The talented hosts welcome an opponent who are yet to go beyond the quarter finals of the Davis Cup after four previous appearances in the last eight. Kazakhstan looked good in beating Switzerland in the first round (admittedly the Swiss were without big guns, Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka…). Lead by former top 50 star, Mikhail Kukushkin, can they go past a very talented Croatian side and make the semis for the first time ever?

Croatia vs Kazakhstan Davis Cup Match Schedule

Croatia are through to the semi-finals of the Davis Cup after a 3-1 win over Kazakhstan.

Latest Croatia vs Kazakhstan Davis Cup results

RUBBER 1: Marin Cilic bt. Dmitry Popko 6-2 6-1 6-2

This was a near mismatch as Marin Cilic gave Croatia the lead with an emphatic victory over the unheralded Dmitry Popko. The world number three hardly broke sweat, sending down 10 aces and 42 winners to run through Popko in an hour and 42 minutes.

Cilic served at just 62%, but he won 74% of points on his second serves, while saving the two break points he faces for the duration of the match.

RUBBER 2: Mikhaik Kukushkin bt. Borna Coric 3-6 7-6 6-4 6-2

Mikhail Kukushkin produced one of his best performances to defeat Borna Coric in four sets to help Kazakhstan maintain any realistic hopes of advancing to the semi-finals for the first time ever.
Coric seemed on the way to a routine win when he took the opening set 6-3, but Kukushkin raised his game as the increasingly frustrated Coric lost his way. The home player twice led by a break in the second set, but he couldn’t hang on to either, and was eventually taken to a tie break, which Kukushkin won to even the match.

Coric never really recovered from that disappointment, as Kukushkin broke early in the third, and then two times in the fourth set to complete a memorable win.

RUBBER 3: Ivan Dodig/Nikola Mectic (CRO) def. Timur Khabibulin/Aleksandr Nedovyesov (KAZ) 6-7(2) 6-4 6-4 6-2

Croatia put themselves back into pole position to make the Davis Cup semi-finals on Saturday, with the doubles pairing of Ivan Dodig and Nikola Mektic defeating the relatively inexperienced duo of Timur Khabibulin and Aleksandr Nedovyesov in four sets to hand the host nation an all-important 2-1 lead in Varazdin.

Khabibulin and Nedovyesov came firing out of the blocks and surprised the Croatians in snatching the first set in a tiebreak, but from there Dodig and Metic took control of the contest and never looked back, finishing strongly for a 67(2) 64 64 62 victory.

“We were a bit surprised, we didn’t know so much about them,” Dodig said afterwards. “They were playing at a high-level, serving very good. In the end it was a very difficult first set for us, but we kept raising our game and in the second, third and fourth sets and in the end we are happy to win this one.”

RUBBER 4: Marin Cilic (CRO) def. Mikhail Kukushkin 6-1 6-1 6-1

Marin Cilic breezed past Mikhail Kukushkin to send Croatia into the Davis Cup semi-finals for the second time in three years.

With Croatia leading 2-1 from Saturday, Cilic had the chance to finish off the tie in the first of Sunday’s reverse singles, and the world number three responded with another dominant performance. Cilic has operated at a different class all weekend- he dropped just five games in the tie’s opening rubber against Popko; and was even more emphatic against Kukushkin.

The only blip came towards the end, when Kukushkin put up a stubborn late resistance, but Croatia’s No. 1 eventually got over the line on his eighth match point. Next up for Cilic and co. is a last-four tie against the USA.

Croatia vs Kazakhstan Davis Cup squads

CROATIA: Marin Cilic, Borna Coric, Ivan Dodig, Nikola Metkic, Viktor Galovic, Zeljko Krajan (Captain) 
KAZAKHSTAN: Mikhail Kukushkin, Aleksandr Nedovyesov, Dmitry Popko, Timur Khabibulin, Denis Yevseyev, Dias Doskarayev (Captain)

World number three, Marin Cilic leads the Croatian side, who are looking to return to the semi-finals for the second time in three years. Cilic didn’t play singles for Croatia in the previous round against Canada, but he is expected to play a significant role in this weekend’s tie against Kazakhstan. Joining the Australian Open runner-up on singles’ duty is Borna Coric, who is coming off some fine performances at Indian Wells and Miami. He reached the semi-finals at Indian Wells; and made the quarter finals in Miami.

Also in the squad is doubles specialist, Ivan Dodig, who is on a five-match winning streak in Davis Cup doubles rubbers, while Nikola Metkic, ranked 33rd in the world doubles’ ranking will likely partner Dodig in Saturday’s doubles’. Completing the squad is Viktor Galovic, who lost to Denis Shapovalov in his only live rubber till date; and is unlikely to get a game this weekend.

Kazakhstan are lead by former top 50 player, Mikhail Kukushkin, who has played a lot of tennis this year, reaching the quarter finals in Pune, and winning the Irving Challenger in March. The world number 92 has been a stalwart for his country, winning 23 of 35 matches he has contested through the various levels of the Davis Cup. Kukushkin is the only top-100 player in the side, with the nearest man to him being Aleksandr Nedovyesov, who is down at 235th in the world. The other members include Dmitry Popko, Timur Khabibulin, and Denis Yevseyev. 

Davis Cup Format

Davis Cup ties are played according to a unique format developed over the 116 years the competition has been played.

Each Davis Cup tie consists of five rubbers: Two singles matches played on Friday followed by a doubles match on Saturday, with the reverse singles pairings being played on Sunday. Each match is decided over the best of five sets. A vote to reduce Davis Cup matches to best-of-three-sets matches was not approved during the ITF Annual General Meeting in August after the proposal narrowly failed to meet the two-thirds majority required for implementation. 

However, the ITF board could still effect the changes on a trial basis from 2018.

Player nominations for each tie can be changed up until an hour before the start of play.

One nation hosts the tie, with the choice of ground decided by where the two competing teams played last time.

From next season, the finalists for the previous year will have the choice of hosting their first-round ties.

Croatia vs Kazakhstan Davis Cup: The history

This is the first ever meeting between Croatia and Kazakhstan. The Croats are far more experienced at this level, having won the title in 2005 and reached the final in 2016, while Kazakhstan are looking to reach the semi-finals for the first time in their history having fallen at the quarter final stage on four previous occasions.

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Croatia vs Kazakhstan Davis Cup tennis news, matches and live stream: Marin Cilic storms past Mikhail Kukushkin to guide Croatia into semis

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