Russia beats Kazakhstan to return to Davis Cup's top tier

MOSCOW (AP) Russia is returning to the top level of the Davis Cup for the first time since 2012 after beating Kazakhstan in a playoff Sunday.

Rain on Friday and bad light Saturday meant a packed schedule Sunday, which began with Kazakhstan's Mikhail Kukushkin beating Russian Evgeny Donskoy to level the match at 1-1. Russia took the lead in the doubles and sealed a 3-1 win when Andrei Kuznetsov beat Kukushin 6-1, 6-2, 6-2.

Russia won the Davis Cup in 2002 and 2006 with the help of star players such as Marat Safin and Yevgeny Kafelnikov, but has struggled in men's tennis in recent years.

Whereas Safin and Kafelnikov both held the world No. 1 ranking during their careers, the highest-ranked Russian man is currently Kuznetsov at 47th in the world.

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