Jelena Dokic continued her spectacular comeback yesterday, leading Australia to a comprehensive 3-0 win over South Korea in their opening Fed Cup Asia-Oceania Group I clash.
The former world No. 4 said she was nervous ahead of her first appearance for Australia in the women’s team event since 2000, but cruised to a 6-0, 6-3 victory over Lee Jin-a, ranked a lowly No. 305 in the world.
World No. 43 Samantha Stosur then wrapped up the Group A tie for the host nation with a 6-2, 6-4 win over the 226th-ranked Lee Ye-ra. Casey Dellacqua and Rennae Stubbs completed a clean sweep with a 6-0, 6-2 win over Chang Kyung-mi and Lee Jin-a in the doubles.
The 25-year-old Dokic, who emerged from years in the tennis wilderness with a remarkable run to the Australian Open quarter-finals last month, said she had plenty in reserve after beating an opponent whom she admitted she did not even know was left-handed before the match.
In front of just a few hundred fans, a far cry from the packed crowds in Melbourne, Dokic’s only hiccup came when she served for the match at 5-1 in the second set and was broken by Lee.
“There were a lot of feelings going into this match,” said Dokic, who has climbed to 91 in the rankings following her run at the Australian Open.
Also in Group B, Thailand were off to the perfect start with a 3-0 win over Taiwan.
Tamarine Tanasugarn, the highest-ranked singles player here, at No. 41, beat Chan Chin-wei (詹謹瑋) 6-2, 6-0 to seal the tie after Suchanun Viratprasert beat Hwang I-hsuan (黃怡萱) in the opening singles 7-6 (7-3), 6-1.
In Group A, India, without injured star Sania Mirza, slumped to a 3-0 loss to New Zealand.
Mirza, who won the mixed doubles title at the Australian Open, withdrew from the tournament due to an abdominal strain, leaving the low-ranked trio of Rushmi Chakravarthi, Ankita Bhambri and Sanaa Bhambri to tackle the Kiwis.
In the other Group A match, Indonesia upset Uzbekistan 2-1.
The Indonesian pairing of Sandy Gumulya and Ayu Fani Damayanti clinched the tie with a 6-4, 7-6 (7-5) win over Akgul Amanmuradova and Albina Khabibulina in the deciding doubles.
The round-robin group ties continue until tomorrow, with the top side from each group meeting in Saturday’s final.
The winner advances to the World Group II playoffs in April.
In Asia/Oceania Group II, Hong Kong beat Iran 3-0, while Kazakhstan swept Singapore 3-0.
■SA TENNIS OPEN
AFP, JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA
Big guns Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France and David Ferrer of Spain cruised into the second round of the rain-interrupted SA Tennis Open on Tuesday.
Top seed Tsonga gradually took control of Brazilian Thiago Alves to record a 6-4, 6-1 center-court win in 54 minutes at Montecasino entertainment center in an upmarket suburb of Johannesburg.
And after trailing 2-0 in the opening set, second seed Ferrer won 12 games in a row to overcome Israel Davis Cup star Dudi Sela 6-2, 6-0 and set up a clash with German Simon Greul.
Other winners were Czezh Ivo Minar, Portuguese Frederico Gil, Swiss Marco Chiudinelli, Belgian Kristof Vliegan, Frenchman Jeremy Chardy and Uzbek Denis Istomin on courts that were a car park just three months ago.
The biggest surprise was the elimination of South African No. 1 Kevin Anderson, who failed to emulate compatriots and shock first-day winners Rik de Voest and Raven Klaasen as he slumped 7-6 (7/4), 6-4 to Minar.