Astana, Kazakhstan (SportsNetwork.com) - Kazakhstan and Italy split the first two matches in their Davis Cup first-round tie on Friday.
Mikhail Kukushkin gave Kazakhstan the first point of the day with a 7-6 (8-6), 6-1, 6-2 victory over Simone Bolelli before Andreas Seppi evened it for the Italians with a 6-3, 6-3, 6-7 (5-7), 6-2 triumph over Andrey Golubev.
The best-of-five series continues Saturday with a doubles rubber scheduled to pit Fabio Fognini and Paolo Lorenzi for Italy against Golubev and Aleksandr Nedovyesov for the hosts.
Reverse singles action for Sunday is currently slated to feature Kukushkin against Seppi and Golubev versus Bolelli.
Bolelli had a chance to win the first set for the visitors in the opening match with a 6-4 lead in the tiebreak, but Kukushkin battled back and won four straight points to capture the set. Kukushkin carried that momentum for the remainder of the match, dropping just three more games.
"You never know what would have happened if I had lost the first set," said Kukushkin. "Maybe I would have been able to battle back and win the match, but you never know."
Seppi, though, made sure the Italians at least broke even after the first day. He broke serve three times over the first two sets, then couldn't finish off a tight tiebreaker, but a break of serve in the sixth game of the fourth set provided the difference.
"If I had lost the fourth, you never know what could have happened in the fifth," said Seppi, who beat Roger Federer in the third round of the Australian Open earlier this year. "I think after I broke him he was a little bit down."
Italy reached the semifinals of last year's Davis Cup before losing to eventual champion Switzerland and has just one title in its history, coming back in 1976.
Kazakhstan has never won the Davis Cup and last year also fell to Switzerland in the quarterfinals.