Baez lifts Argentina past Kazakhstan and into Davis Cup group stage
ROSARIO, Argentina, (AP) — Argentina reached the Davis Cup Finals group stage by eliminating Kazakhstan 3-2 in the best-of-five-match qualifying round when Sebastian Baez erased two match points and came back to edge Dmitry Popko 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (6) on Sunday.
Belgium, the Czech Republic and France also wrapped up victories Sunday, while Chile and Peru were in action at night.
Baez is a 23-year-old who is currently ranked a career-high No. 25. He reached the third round of the Australian Open last month before losing to eventual champion Jannik Sinner. Popko, 27, is ranked No. 338 and has failed in 16 attempts to qualify for a Grand Slam tournament.
Popko was in position to get Kazakhstan past 2016 Davis Cup champion Argentina, just one point away from winning while ahead 6-4 in the concluding tiebreaker. But from there, Baez grabbed the match's last four points.
Belgium clinched its spot in the next round with a 3-1 victory over Croatia that was sealed when Zizou Bergs beat Duje Ajdukovic 6-1, 7-5 on Sunday. Bergs also won the opening singles match Saturday against 2014 U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic.
The Czech Republic eliminated Israel 4-0, and France beat Taiwan by the same score.
Seven nations made it through qualifying in series that wrapped up Friday or Saturday: the United States, Brazil, Canada, Finland, Germany, Netherlands and Slovakia.
The dozen countries that advanced this week will join reigning champion Italy, 2023 runner-up Australia, and wild-card entries Britain and Spain in the 16-team, four-city Finals group stage in September. Then eight of those teams will make it to the quarterfinals in Malaga, Spain, in November, when a champion will be determined.
One tier below, in the World Group I playoffs, India won 4-0 at Pakistan, while two-time Grand Slam runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas helped Greece get past visiting Romania 4-0.
AP tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis
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