NZ face tough Davis Cup challenge after Bulgaria take 2-0 lead

Sat, Feb 4
KP Pannu reacts after winning the first set of his Davis Cup match.

The New Zealand Davis Cup team have a tough task ahead of them in their clash with Bulgaria after falling behind 2-0 at Wilding Park in Christchurch today.

Bulgaria won both singles rubbers to take a commanding lead in the World Group 1 playoff today as players faced both scorching serves and temperatures with the Garden City recording a 32 degrees Celsius high.

Ajeet Rai represented New Zealand in the first rubber of the day but Alexandar Lazarov powered past him 7-6 6-2.

KP Pannu then faced off against Dimitar Kuzmanov - Bulgaria's top-ranked singles player at World No.192 - and despite taking the first set, eventually went down 5-7 6-3 6-2.

Despite the result, Pannu put on an impressive display against a player ranked 384 places above him in the global rankings.

Rai and Pannu stepped up for New Zealand after experienced campaigner Rubin Statham was a late withdrawal this morning due to injury with officials noting it was an Achilles issue.

Statham is New Zealand's most-capped Davis Cup player in history with 33 ties but thankfully there's some experience covering his absence with stellar doubles combo Michael Venus and Artem Sitak to play the opening rubber tomorrow.


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