Davis Cup: Croatia leads Kazakhstan 1-0 in quarterfinals

VARAZDIN, Croatia (AP) Mikhail Kukushkin beat Borna Coric in 3 1/2 hours for Kazakhstan to tie with Croatia 1-1 in the Davis Cup quarterfinals on Friday.

Despite a much lower ranking, Kukushkin improved his record against Coric to 3-0 after winning 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4, 6-2.

Marin Cilic earned Croatia the first point by dispatching Dmitry Popko 6-2, 6-1, 6-2.

In the doubles on Saturday, Ivan Dodig and Nikola Mektic, who are 1-0 together in Davis Cup, will play Kazakhstan’s Timur Khabibulin and Aleksandr Nedovyesov, who are 2-0.

The 92nd-ranked Kukushkin was a set down and a break down twice in the second set, but he recovered immediately each time and won a smart tiebreak 7-5 on his third set point. He then broke Coric at 2-1 in the third, prompting his 28th-ranked opponent to smash his racket into the clay.

Kukushkin finally broke Coric’s resistance when he broke again for 2-1 in the fourth and served out.

Former U.S. Open champion Cilic hit 10 aces and had 32 winners to Popko’s 12. He lost only 11 points on serve in a first-time matchup between players ranked No. 3 and No. 258.

Croatia is trying to reach the semifinals for the second time in three years, while Kazakhstan is trying to reach the semifinals for the first time.