New Zealand lead Pakistan in Davis Cup tie

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Christchurch (New Zealand)—New Zealand raced to a 2-0 lead in their Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Group I tie against Pakistan after dominating the opening singles rubbers.
Veteran Jose Statham, playing a record 25th Davis Cup tie, downed Muhammad Abid 6-0, 6-1, 6-4 to give the Kiwis a perfect start. Tournament debutant Finn Tearney was even more emphatic, crushing Samir Iftikar 6-2, 6-0, 6-0 to leave Pakistan on the brink in the best-of-five tie.
The winner will remain in Asia/Oceania Group I, with the loser relegated to Group II. Pakistan are without their number one player Aisam ul Haq Qureshi, who pulled out because he was still angry about the last time the two teams met in Myanmar in 2013. That tie was officially a “home” fixture for Pakistan—which has not hosted Davis Cup matches since 2005 due to security concerns.
But the grass court was deemed unplayable and the match referee awarded the tie to New Zealand, even though Pakistan were winning at the time. The start of the Davis Cup World Group play-off tie between Russia and Kazakhstan has been pushed back to Saturday because of persistent rain, the country’s tennis federation chief said Friday.
“If everything is alright we will play both singles and the doubles,” on Saturday, Shamil Tarpischev told the R-Sport news agency.
“If there are delays and bad weather on Saturday, we will continue playing on Monday.”
Russia’s Andrey Kuznetsov—currently ranked 47th in the world—will now play the opening match at 0700 GMT against Kazakhstan’s Aleksandr Nedovyesov.
This is the first time the teams have met in the Davis Cup. Meanwhile, Late call-up Richard Gasquet put France on their way in their Davis Cup World Group semi-final against Croatia on Friday, beating rising star Borna Coric 6-2, 7-6 (7/5), 6-1.
Gasquet, 30, was drafted in after Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gael Monfils pulled out with knee injuries and the world number 17 made the most of the opportunity against the 19-year-old Coric on Zadar’s indoor hard courts.
The Frenchman initially missed out because of his own struggle with back and chest injuries over the summer, and even lost in the first round of the US Open to Britain’s Kyle Edmund.
In Friday’s second singles rubber in-form Frenchman Lucas Pouille, ranked 18, will play 11th-ranked Marin Cilic.—AFP