Berdych-less Czechs ready to face Kazakhstan in Davis Cup QFs

The reigning champion Czech Republic will face host Kazakhstan in a Davis Cup quarterfinal starting Friday at the National Tennis Centre in Astana.

The opening singles rubber will pit Czech Jan Hajek against Kazakhstan's Mikhail Kukushkin, while the second match on Day 1 will see Czech Lukas Rosol take on Andrey Golubev on an indoor clay court.

The Czechs are playing this week without their top star, injured world No. 6 Tomas Berdych, who's out with a shoulder problem, and their No. 2, Radek Stepanek, has been slowed by a back injury, which will prevent him from playing singles, at least on Friday.

Saturday's doubles rubber will pit Czechs Stepanek and Ivo Minar against a Kazakh tandem of Evgeny Korolev and Yuri Schukin, while Sunday's reverse singles call for Rosol to face Kukushkin and Hajek to battle Golubev.

The Czech Republic's highest-ranked singles player this week is Rosol, at No. 63, while the highest-ranked player for Kazakhstan is Kukushkin, at No. 156.

The Kazakhs are 1-0 all-time versus the Czechs, with the victory coming on the road in the opening round in Ostrava two years ago.

The winner in Astana will meet the Argentina-France victor in the semifinals in September.

The Czechs beat mighty Spain in last year's final in Prague.