South Korea took an irreversible 3-0 lead over Taiwan by winning an excruciating five-set doubles match in the Asia-Oceania zone Group I first round yesterday.
Lim Yong-kyu and Seol Jae-min edged their higher-ranked opponents Huang Liang-chi and Yi Chu-huan 6-4, 6-3, 6-7 (5/7), 3-6, 7-5 in a nail-biting match that lasted for more than four hours.
Only an hour before the crucial doubles match began, Taiwan sent in Huang instead of earlier announced Yang Tsung-hua in an apparent bid to catch South Korea off guard.
However, the hosting team shed little sweat to win the two sets amid partisan support from local fans.
Taiwan stormed back hard, picking up the following two sets, but unforced errors by Huang gave South Korea the final set and the match.
In the other Asia/Oceania Group I ties, Lleyton Hewitt and Chris Guccione gave Australia a winning 3-0 lead against China, beating Zhang Ze and Li Zhe 6-2, 6-2, 6-2.
The match started an hour late due to rain on the grass courts at the Geelong Lawn Tennis Club.
Australia will host South Korea in the next round.
The winner will then progress to a losing first-round World Group country in an attempt to return to the elite eight-team competition for next year.
Meanwhile, Uzbekistan wrapped up their tie against New Zealand, winning the doubles in straight sets to take an unbeatable 3-0 lead in the match.
Denis Istomin and Farrukh Dustov combined to beat Dan King-Turner and Michael Venus 6-4, 7-6 (7/4) 6-1.
The Uzbekistan pair broke New Zealand on King-Turner’s serve at 3-3 in the first set and forced a tie break in the second by breaking Venus when New Zealand led 4-2 after Dustov had dropped his serve.
From then on it was all Uzbekistan, as Istomin and Dustov raced through the third set 6-1, leaving two dead rubbers to be played in the reverse singles today.
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