Image from www.prosportkz.kz(24.3Mb)embed videoFor the first time in two decades Russia is not involved in the top tier of the Davis Cup though four Russians were helping their adopted nation of Kazakhstan make it to the quarter-finals. Kazkhstan may not have a player ranked in the top 150 men, and it doesn’t have much of a tennis history but it is mixing it with the world’s best.The side is made up of four Russians – Mikhail Kukushkin, Andrey Golubev, Yury Schukin and Evgeny Korolev – who all switched allegiance to Kazakhstan.There is no bad blood between the Kazakh and Russian tennis federations. Russia’s Davis and Fed Cup captain Shamil Tarpishchev gave his blessing to Golubev and Korolyev when they made the switch.And former French Open champion, Anastasia Myskina understands why the players decided to play for their adopted nation. “Money is a huge factor in tennis. A player needs to travel, a coach and good facilities in which to train. At that moment in Russia, there weren’t that many good training bases available to the players, though things have changed since,” she says adding that “in Kazakhstan there are excellent facilities for the play
ers, and the tennis federation is reaping the rewards”.The tennis center in Astana is fantastic, and caters for the player’s every need, and Korolev says that it is extremely helpful to have such great support.Kazakhstan’s success comes at a time when the men’s game in Russia is really struggling. For the first time in two decades, Shamil Tarpishchev’s side dropped out of the world group, and will face Great Britain in April to try and make it back to play with tennis’s elite.However, they will have one of the country’s rising star’s to call on, Andrey Kuznetsov, who turned down an opportunity to play for Kazakhstan a couple of years ago.Kazkhstan’s men’s tennis players have secured their status amongst the sports elite for another year at least. Now it is up to Russia to try and catch up with their neighbor and also make it back into the Davis Cup world group.
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