Astana, Kazakhstan (SportsNetwork.com) - Andrey Golubev saved Kazakhstan, beating Ruben Bemelmans in the fifth and deciding rubber to give the hosts a 3-2 win over Belgium in the first round of the 2014 Davis Cup.
Belgium had recovered from a 2-0 deficit, first with a doubles win on Saturday and then when David Goffin rallied for a five-set victory over Mikhail Kukushkin in the first reverse singles match Sunday.
Bemelmans, however, could not complete the comeback for Belgium, as Golubev simply overwhelmed him a 6-2, 6-3, 6-1 rout.
Golubev was clearly the hero for the Kazakhs this weekend. He outlasted Goffin in a 4 1/2-hour thriller on Friday, claiming the marathon fifth set in a 12-10 decision to give Kazakhstan a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-five tie.
There was no such drama in the fifth rubber Sunday. Golubev broke serve six times and saved the only break point against his serve, while ripping off 40 winners to just 22 for his opponent in a match that lasted only an hour and 39 minutes.
Bemelmans also lost the first point of the weekend for Belgium, falling in four sets to Kukushkin in the opening singles match on Friday. Bemelmans then teamed with Olivier Rochus to start Belgium's comeback on Saturday, capturing a four-set win over the Kazakh tandem of Kukushkin and Evgeny Korolev.
Kazakhstan will play in the quarterfinals for the second year in a row. After beating Austria in the first round last year, the Kazakhs fell to the eventual champion Czech Republic in the quarters.
This time, the Kazakhs will visit Switzerland in April. The Swiss advanced past Serbia this weekend.