Bulat Utemuratov’s team shines in Astana during Davis Cup qualifications

Dmitry Popko and Bulat Utemuratov

The first weekend of February rimed with victory for the Kazakhstani tennis team, fighting their way to the quarterfinals of the Davis Cup, World Group division. Bulat Utemuratov, President of the Kazakhstani Tennis Federation, rejoiced as his players won their matches against Switzerland, making them undefeated for the fifth consecutive year in Astana.

In 2007, Bulat Utemuratov was elected President of the Kazakhstan Tennis Federation, creating a year later Team Kazakhstan to compete in the Davis Cup. Ever since, he has dedicated his time and energy to the formation of the best teams possible to beat the world’s greatest. And this weekend, his efforts came to fruition with a team made of strong and determined tennis players, who eventually wore-out their young Swiss contenders.

On the first day of the meet, Kazakhstan won their three matches, already guaranteeing their place in the quarterfinals. Dmitry Popko was first on the court, facing Henry Laaksonen, captain of the Swiss team. In a gruelling three-hour long match, Popko was triumphant with a final score of 3–6, 6–3, 6–2, 6–3.

Next was team-favourite and best Kazakhstani player Mikhail Kukushkin, facing off against the 22-year-old Swiss player, Adrian Bodmer. Placed 485th in the world according to the ATP rankings, the young Swiss quickly lost his grit, leaving Kukushkin to deliver an incredible sporting performance, winning 
 3–6, 6–3, 6–2, 6–3.

The last match of the day would already seal the fate of both teams, in a nerve-wracking doubles game, Timur Khabibullin and Alexander Nedovesov faced the Swiss pair Luca Margaroli and Mark Hoesler. The Kazakhstani duo won the first two sets 6–4, 6–4, however the Swiss were quick to equalise, winning the next sets 6–3, 7–6. In the fifth and decisive set, Khabibullin and Nedovesov proved they were a force to be reckoned with, finally bringing back the victory to their country with a final set won 6–3.

With Team Kazakhstan securing their place Davis Cup quarterfinals, World Group division, two matches were left to be played the next day. Roman Khasanov lost to the Swiss Mark Hoesler 3–6, 1–6, and Dmitry Popko showed he more than deserved his place in the team by defeating Adrian Bodmer 7–6, 1–6, 7–5.

The famous Kazakh sponsor Bulat Utemuratov did it again, with the help of captain Dias Doskarayev, he passionately put together a group of fierce Kazakhstani players to proudly represent their nation. In a closing statement given at the end of the weekend, the President of the Tennis Federation of Kazakhstan insisted on thanking all the fans who came to support the team during their matches, adding they could not have won without their constant cheering and enthusiasm.