Monday Topspin: Kazakhstan is not weak

(Yes, I know the Seinfeld reference is about the Ukraine.  It seemed appropriate nonetheless.)

Sure, Radek Stepanek didn’t play, and Tomas Berdych may not have been 100 percent.  But really, did anybody see Kazakhstan advancing to the World Group quarterfinals?  Wow.

The hero for the Kazakhs was Andrey Golubev who, astonishingly, defeated Berdych in yesterday’s fourth rubber to even the tie.  That set the stage for the underrated Mikhail Kukushkin to clinch the victory by winning his match against Jan Hajek, exhausted from his five-set effort on Friday.  Next, the Kazakhs will play in Argentina, which may just be winnable for them, depending on who is healthy enough to represent the Argentine side.

The other drama-filled tie yesterday was in Zagreb, between Croatia and Germany.  After Marin Cilic handily won the fourth rubber, both captains went with substitutes, so the tie was decided by Ivo Karlovic and Philipp Petzschner.  It’s too bad Ivan Dodig was too worn out to play again; I’m liking this guy more every week, and I suspect he could’ve beaten either Petzchner or Florian Mayer.  As it was, Karlovic wasn’t strong enough, and the Germans advance to a tough quarterfinal matchup with France.

Elsewhere: In Cherbourg, Grigor Dimitrov took the final in straight sets against Nicholas Mahut.  It must have felt good: In Dimitrov’s last final, he played Mahut and lost in three.  In Dallas, Alex Bogomolov Jr. beat Ranier Schuettler for his second challenger-level championship since November.

Rankings update: Since it was a Davis Cup weekend, there’s very little movement at the top of the rankings.  Juan Monaco, Golubev, Jeremy Chardy, and Somdev Devvarman all gained a few spots thanks to their wins in live rubbers, while Joachim Johansson lept more than 200 places to 537th.

With his victory in Cherbourg, Dimitrov ascends to 71st, a new career high for the Bulgarian.  Bogomolov gains 24 spots to #128, and Andres Molteni, champion in Salinas, breaks into the top 200 for the first time, landing at #185.

Indian Wells: Another day, another withdrawal: It seems like I just mentioned Tommy Haas‘s comeback, to find out that he isn’t playing this week after all.

Looking at the entry lists, what’s fun about the upcoming tournament is that nearly everyone is playing doubles.  In addition to the usual pairs, Rafael Nadal is teaming with Marc Lopez, Novak Djokovic with Viktor Troicki, Robin Soderling with Jarkko Nieminen, Andy Murray with brother Jamie, and Tomas Berdych with Janko Tipsarevic.  I’m sure we’ll see a few of these teams withdraw, but for now, all that’s missing is Federer/Wawrinka.

Check back later today–I’ve got an interesting new feature I’ll be adding to the site.

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