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Tennis: Kukushkin gives Kazakhs lead in Italy Davis Cup clash

AFP , Friday 6 Mar 2015
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Mikhail Kukushkin put Kazakhstan 1-0 up in their Davis Cup World Group first round tie against Italy on Friday, beating Simone Bolelli in straight sets in Astana.

Kukushkin won his first meeting with Bolelli 7-6 (8/6), 6-1, 6-2 on the hardcourts of the National Tennis Centre in two hours 22 minutes.

"Frankly I was geared up for much tougher match," admitted Kukushkin.

"I didn't expect to win so easy today. But I'm pleased that I managed to conserve a lot of my strength and nerves for Sunday's match (against Andreas Seppi) which will definitely be a much more serious affair."

Kukushkin, ranked 58 in the world, started with an immediate break but the 29-year-old Bolelli broke back to level in the eighth game, forcing a tiebreak.

Kukushkin, 27, moved up a gear in the second set breaking serve twice to take the set in 43 minutes for a comfortable 2-0 lead.

The Kazakh underlined his domination in the third, producing two more breaks to seal victory with an ace.

"I'm really upset with this defeat," Bolelli said. "Today I had serious problems with my serve, while Mikhail was so confident and focused.

"After losing the first set in a tiebreak I had chances to get back but missed them all."

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