Dmitry Popko practice - Davis Cup Finals 2021

Photo: Diego Souto

In our new content series entitled “Across The Net”, we will introduce you to each of the teams that the Canadian team presented by Sobeys will face during the 2021 Davis Cup Finals by Rakuten in Madrid. The goal is to set the table for the matchups and analyze the competition in detail!

Today, we focus on the next opponent awaiting our Canadians: Kazakhstan!

The encounter, which is set to be played Sunday beginning at 4:00 a.m. EST, will be decisive for Canada, which is hoping to reach the quarter-finals for a second consecutive year. Canada is looking for its first win after a 3-0 loss to Sweden in Thursday’s opening tie.

Alexander Bublik - Nur-Sultan
Photo: ATP Tour

Player No. 1: Alexander Bublik (no. 36)

The leader of the Kazakh team will be 24-year-old Alexander Bublik, the only member of the Top 50 on his team. Bublik is one of the ATP’s rising stars and has enjoyed an excellent 2021 season, posting the most wins in a season so far in his career (29), making two finals (Singapore and Antalya) and reaching the quarter-finals of two Masters 1000 tournaments (Miami and Madrid). More impressively, in Rotterdam, he was able to upset world no. 3 Alexander Zverev, who has won six titles this year including the Tokyo Olympics and the ATP Finals. With a 4-1 Davis Cup record, he will be a formidable opponent for our Canadians.

Player No.2: Dimitri Popko (no. 171)

Dimitri Popko, the second singles player for Kazakhstan, is making his 11th appearance as a member of his national team. He usually performs well in this team competition (4-2 record) and could create some surprises this week. In 2021, he has mostly competed on the ATP Challenger Tour, winning the title in Lisbon (6-2, 6-4 over Andre Pellegrino) and reaching the final in Prague.

Player No. 3: Mikhail Kukushkin (no. 183)

A Davis Cup veteran and the player with the most nominations for Kazakhstan (26), Mikhail Kukushkin is a singles player who brings a lot of experience to his team. Although he has dropped in the world rankings this year from no. 89 to no. 183, his 26-15 record in international matches should not be overlooked. Considering he has also managed to play in the main draw of every Grand Slam in 2021, he certainly has the potential to score valuable points for his country.

Mikhail Kukushkin practice - Davis Cup Finals 2021
Photo: Diego Souto

Player No. 4 and Player No.5 : Aleksandr Nedovyesov and Andrey Golubev (no. 72 and no. 28 in doubles)

Kazakhstan will be able to count on a great doubles duo: Aleksandr Nedovyesov and Andrey Golubev. Nedovyesov (34) has enjoyed doubles success on the ATP Challenger Tour in recent months, winning seven titles (Antalaya 1-2, Nur-Sultan 1, Split 1, Bratislava, Prostejov and Kyiv). For his part, Golubev climbed from no. 88 to no. 28 in the ATP doubles rankings this season. Although he did not win any titles, he participated in two doubles finals, including the French Open.  

Complementary Information from the ITF

Capitain: Yuriy Schukin [Former ATP player who reached a career-high ranking of no. 119]

Fun Facts: Kazakhstan entered the World Group for the first time in its history in 2011 and has since managed to reach the quarter-finals on five occasions – in 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2018. Prior to 1995, players from this country represented the Soviet Union.