Davis Cup: Argentina and Kazakhstan tied 1-1 in playoff

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Kazakh veteran leader Mikhail Kukushkin won the opening singles rubber, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5), 6-2, 6-4, in nearly four hours. (AP)

ASTANA, Kazakhstan (AP) — Argentina and Kazakhstan finished the first day of their Davis Cup World Group playoff at 1-1 on Friday.

Kazakh veteran leader Mikhail Kukushkin lost the first set against Guido Pella but responded strongly to win the opening singles 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5), 6-2, 6-4 in nearly four hours.

Pella was consistently strong in the first two sets before mistakes crept into his game, the Argentine posting 23 unforced errors in the fourth against 14 for Kukushkin.

Diego Schwartzman, ranked 28th in the world, cruised through the second rubber against 196th-ranked Dmitry Popko to level the overall score, winning 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 in just under 2 hours.

Argentina won last year's title, but dropped into the playoffs this year after losing to Italy in the first round.

Kazakhstan, which dropped out of the World Group last year, reached the playoffs by defeating China.

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