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Tennis | Davis Cup

Mikhail Kukushkin © Reuters

Kazakhstan secure World Group spot



Kazakhstan secured their place in the Davis Cup World Group after Mikhail Kukushkin beat Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan in the fourth rubber of the two countries' play-off showdown on Sunday.

The 24-year-old Kukushkin won 6-4, 6-2, 6-7 (5/7), 6-2 in his first ever meeting with Istomin, who is ranked 34th in the ATP ranking, to give Kazakhstan an unassailable 3-1 lead in the tie.

"It was a really tough match," Kukushkin said. "It was much tougher than you'd think from looking at the scoreboard.

"It was especially difficult in the beginning of the fourth set but luckily I managed to battle through and win. I'm very happy to win the deciding point for my side."

Kukushkin, the world number 70, started the match with an immediate break and preserved his narrow lead to take the first set in 38 minutes before comfortably opening up a two-set advantage.

Moscow resident Istomin, 26, reduced the arrears by winning the third set in a tie-break but in the fourth Kukushkin broke his opponent's serve twice again to win the set, the match, and a place in the World Group for his squad.

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