China’s Wu Di is ranked No. 495 in the tennis world and rarely impresses in Challenger and Futures tournaments. However, if his ranking were strictly determined by his Davis Cup performances against Taiwan, he would easily be in the top 100.
For the second straight year, Wu has won two singles matches, including the deciding fifth point yesterday, in a Davis Cup tie against Taiwan to lead China to a 3-2 victory in their Asia Oceania Group I playoff.
The loss means Taiwan will face a relegation battle for the right to stay in Group I later this year, against the loser of another playoff between India and New Zealand, while China’s Davis Cup campaign for the year has ended, having preserved their spot in Group I for next year.
Taiwan entered yesterday trailing 2-1 in the best-of-five tie after splitting Friday’s singles and losing Saturday’s doubles at the Yangming Tennis Courts in Greater Kaoshiung, hoping to sweep the day’s two singles to give them victory.
World No. 178 Yang Tsung-hua, who lost a heartbreaking five-setter to Wu on Friday after cramping up late in the final set, evened the tie at 2-2 with a 6-3, 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 triumph over China’s top player, Zhang Ze.
With world No. 189 Jimmy Wang set to play the deciding match against Wu in front of a home crowd, Taiwan’s chances suddenly looked promising. Wang defeated Zhang in four sets on Friday and he has always been a money player for Taiwan in Davis Cup play, winning all three of the decisive fifth matches he has played (twice against China and once against Japan).
However, Wu had other ideas, topping Wang 6-4, 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/4) to clinch the tie for his country. In a first-round Davis Cup tie in Shanghai last year in which Taiwan had been heavily favored, Wu played the match of his life, saving a match point and defeating Taiwan’s top player Lu Yen-hsun in five sets, and knocking off Yang in four sets in the final match of a 3-2 playoff win.
Lu has not played in the Davis Cup this year because he is chasing ranking points in a bid to qualify for the men’s singles event at the London Olympics this summer.
Taiwan were forced into a playoff battle against China in the relegation round after losing to South Korea 4-1 in February.
Meanwhile, Australia gave themselves a chance of regaining a place in the World Group when they routed South Korea 5-0 in their Asia Oceania Group I second-round tie yesterday.
World No. 36 Bernard Tomic and Marinko Matosevic completed the clean sweep over South Korea when they won their reverse singles matches at the Queensland Tennis Centre.
Tomic brushed aside Davis Cup debutant Na Jung-woong 6-2, 6-1 in less than an hour after Matosevic had outlasted Cho Min-hyeok 6-2, 2-6, 6-0.