Taiwan’s Davis Cup team were staring defeat in the face at the Gimcheon Total Sports Town Tennis Courts in Gimcheon, South Korea, yesterday as they fell 2-0 behind in their tie with South Korea in Asia/Oceania Group I.
The day looked to be starting well for the visitors in the first rubber when Taiwan’s Chen Ti took a two sets to love lead over South Korea’s Lim Yong-kyu, but the Taiwanese world No. 273 then let the South Korean No. 288 back into the match, with Lim eventually claiming a five-set victory 5-7, 3-6, 6-1, 7-5, 6-4.
In the day’s second singles match, Taiwan’s world No. 177 Yang Tsung-hua was heavily fancied against world No. 793 Jeong Suk-young, but the South Korean upset the form book, and maybe Taiwan’s chances of progressing to play either Australia or China in the next round, by defeating the Taiwanese star 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7/5).
Taiwan have it all to do in the tie, as they need to win today’s doubles match and both reverse singles tomorrow to avoid being plunged into a relegation playoff in the next round.
In the other Asia/Oceania Group I ties, straight sets wins for Lleyton Hewitt and Bernard Tomic gave Australia a 2-0 lead over China.
Veteran two-time Grand Slam winner Hewitt beat China’s top-ranked men’s player Zhang Ze, while Tomic saw off rising youngster Wu Di.
“One day, I hopefully can win the Davis Cup,” said Tomic, 19, after his 6-4, 7-6 (7-3), 6-3 victory over world No. 502 Wu at the Geelong Lawn Tennis Club.
Seasoned Davis Cup campaigner Hewitt, who reached the fourth round of last month’s Australian Open along with Tomic, said Wu’s form was better than his ranking.
“Wu is the best 500 player I’ve ever seen,” he said.
Hewitt defeated Zhang 6-2, 6-1, 7-6 (7-4) and he will hope to win the tie when he partners Chris Guccione in the doubles today.
Meanwhile, Uzbekistan’s Davis Cup team took an early stranglehold on their tie against New Zealand in Tauranga, convincingly winning the first two rubbers to open up a 2-0 lead.
World No. 58 Denis Istomin cruised past Rubin Statham 6-1, 6-1, 6-3, taking barely 90 minutes to dispose of a player almost 500 places below him in the rankings.
Farrukh Dustov had a slightly tougher assignment against Michael Venus, coming back from a set down to win 3-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2.
The result means New Zealand must win today’s doubles rubber to retain any hope of claiming victory. The winners play India, who were given a bye, in the next round.
JAPAN 1, CROATIA 1
Ivo Karlovic came to his side’s rescue yesterday, beating Japanese No. 1 Kei Nishikori as Croatia evened out the first day of their Davis Cup World Group first-round tie.
Croatia’s No. 3 Karlovic fired down 18 aces on his way to a straightforward 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 victory in the second singles rubber.
The 22-year-old Nishikori, who reached the quarter-finals at the Australian Open last month to become the highest-ranked Japanese men’s player at 20th in the world, did not have a single breakpoint throughout the 109-minute match.
Earlier in the day, Japanese No. 2 Go Soeda caused a stir when he stormed back from two sets down to beat Ivan Dodig 6-7 (3/7), 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, 7-5 in an opener that lasted 4 hours, 5 minutes.
“I can’t believe that I actually won. I didn’t feel that there was a big difference with my opponent. It was a result of my usual hard work. It paid off,” said Soeda, ranked 90th against Dodig’s 55th.