Sat, Apr 06, 2013 - Page 20 News List

Taiwan face tough task in Tianjin

By Tony Phillips  /  Staff reporter, with agencies

Yang Tsung-hua of Taiwan hits a return during his Davis Cup first round playoff match against Zhang Ze of China at the Tianjin Tennis Center yesterday.

Photo: AFP

Taiwan have a mountain to climb in their Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Group I relegation playoff against China after Chen Ti and Yang Tsung-hua lost the opening two singles rubbers yesterday.

Chen made a great start to his match against Wu Di in Tianjin, China, dropping only one game in claiming the opening set. Wu then took complete control, losing only five games over the next three sets to earn a 1-6, 6-0, 6-1, 6-4 victory.

World No. 152 Zhang Ze then beat Yang 7-5, 6-1, 6-1 to leave Taiwan needing a win in today’s doubles to keep their hopes alive.

Huang Liang-chi and Chuang Ting-yu are due to face Chinese pair Gong Maoxin and Li Zhe, with the odds stacked in the hosts’ favor. Huang has lost both Davis Cup doubles matches he has played in and 19-year-old Chuang is taking part in the competition for the first time.

Taiwan’s cause has not been helped by the absence of Lu Yen-hsun and Jimmy Wang, the nation’s top-ranked singles players.

Taiwan lost 2-3 to China the last time the two met in the competition, almost exactly a year ago in Kaohsiung.

Meanwhile, Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin needed four sets before downing Marinko Matosevic to level their Asia-Oceania Group 1 second round tie with Australia in Namangan, Uzbekistan.

Istomin, ranked 46, subdued a spirited challenge from the 50th-ranked Matosevic to win the second singles rubber 6-4, 7-6 (7/1), 3-6, 6-4 on the indoor red clay surface.

Bernard Tomic, the highest-ranked player in the tie at 43, got Australia off to a winning start by beating Farrukh Dustov, 7-6 (8/6), 6-4, 6-4 in the opening match.

Davis Cup warhorse Lleyton Hewitt is due to team with Matt Ebden in a pivotal doubles rubber against Istomin and Dustov today.

Australian captain Pat Rafter surprised observers by giving the unproven Matosevic the nod over Hewitt for the opening day singles, despite the former world No. 1’s 52-16 Davis Cup record.

“We didn’t want to take it out of Lleyton today, he’s got a big match tomorrow and that match is really important,” he said.

Tatsuma Ito and Go Soeda both won to give Japan a 2-0 lead over South Korea in their Asia/Oceania zone Group I second round tie in Tokyo.

Ito coasted to a straightforward 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 win over Jeong Suk-young in the opening rubber, while Soeda had to come back from two sets down to beat Cho Min-hyeok 5-7, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2.

Elsewhere, Jan Hajek and Lukas Rosol both won their opening singles matches to give the defending champions the Czech Republic a comfortable 2-0 lead over Kazakhstan in their Davis Cup quarter-final in Astana.

Hajek defeated Mikhail Kukushkin 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 before Rosol rallied to beat Andrey Golubev 4-6, 6-4, 6-2, 7-6 (8/6) in the second singles.

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