Tennis: New Zealand on the verge of Davis Cup tie defeat against Bulgaria after singles losses

New Zealand's Davis Cup tie against Bulgaria has gotten off to a poor start, losing both singles matches at Christchurch's Wilding Park on Saturday.

Falling to a 0-2 deficit leaves New Zealand needing to win all three matches on Sunday, if they're to avoid relegation from the Davis Cup's World Group One - a task made all the more difficult through the withdrawal of Rubin Statham through injury.

In the day's opening match, Ajeet Rai fell to a straight sets defeat against Alexander Lazarov. 

After an impressive first set that saw the Kiwi fall short in a tiebreak, Rai couldn't fight back in the second, losing 6-2 to give Bulgaria first blood.

Kiwi hopes appeared to be on the up in the day's second match, as Kiranpal Pannu took the first set 7-5 against Dimitar Kuzmanov.

However, Kuzmanov rallied to win the second set 6-3, and seized the momentum to take the decider 6-2 for a come-from-behind victory to put Bulgaria on the verge of winning the tie.

On Sunday, Kiwi hopes will be pinned on the doubles pair of Michael Venus and Artem Sitak, who face Alexander Donski and Petr Nestrov.

The reverse singles will also see Rai return to face Kuzmanov, while Statham will hope to recover in time for the final match, where he'll meet Lazarov.