Sun, Apr 07, 2013 - Page 20 News List

Loss ends Taiwan’s Davis Cup hopes

DOUBLES TROUBLE:Taiwan now face a fight to stay in Asia/Oceania Group I, while in other action, South Korea and Kazakhstan kept their hopes alive with wins yesterday

By Tony Phillips  /  Staff reporter, with agencies

Taiwan’s Yang Tsung-hua, left, and Huang Liang-Chi talk tactics during their Davis Cup doubles match yesterday against Chinese pair Li Zhe and Gong Maoxin in Tianjin, China.

Photo: AFP

China’s Gong Maoxin and Li Zhe beat Taiwan’s Huang Liang-chi and Yang Tsung-hua 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 yesterday to take an unassailable 3-0 lead in their Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Group I relegation playoff in Tianjin, China.

The reverse singles are scheduled for today, but even if Taiwan win both, China cannot lose the best-of-five match showdown following defeats for Yang and Chen Ti in the opening singles rubbers on Friday.

Taiwan will now have to play Indonesia in a second-round relegation playoff in September. The losers will be relegated to Group II for next year’s competition.

Meanwhile, Nam Ji-sung and Lim Yong-kyu pulled one back in the doubles for South Korea to leave Japan with a 2-1 lead in their Group I second round tie in Tokyo yesterday.

The Korean duo raced to a 7-5, 6-1, 6-4 win over Go Soeda and Yasutaka Uchiyama in the third match of the best-of-five contest.

Former world No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt inspired Australia to a five-set doubles victory to take the edge over hosts Uzbekistan in their tie in Namangan.

Hewitt, rested from Friday’s opening singles, partnered Matthew Ebden to battle out a 7-5, 6-7 (4/7), 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 win over the Uzbek pairing of Denis Istomin and Farrukh Dustov.

The hard-fought win gave 28-time Davis Cup winners Australia a 2-1 edge heading into today’s two reverse singles to decide the tie on clay.

The winner of the tie advances to September’s World Group playoffs as Australia bid to return to the competition’s top tier for the first time since 2007.

Hewitt, the former Wimbledon and US Open champion, was playing with Ebden for the first time. They were the fresher pair after Istomin and Dustov were backing up from playing in Friday’s singles.

The Uzbeks broke Hewitt’s serve in the third game of the opening set, but the Australians fought back to 3-3 and pounced on Istomin’s service game at 6-5 to take the first set.

The home side rallied to take the second in a tiebreak, but another crucial break on Istomin’s serve late in the third set put Australia 2-1 up.

Istomin and Dustov fought back to send the match to a deciding set, but Hewitt and Ebden fought off their threat.

The Australians secured a crucial early break, from 0-40 down, and held off the Uzbeks, with a crucial hold from 0-40 down on Hewitt’s serve to reach 5-2.

Ebden served out for the rubber with the victory improving Hewitt’s doubles record in the competition to 14-3.

Elsewhere, Andrey Golubev and Yuriy Schukin defeated Czech pair Jan Hajek and Radek Stepanek in Astana to keep Kazakhstan’s hopes of reaching the Davis Cup semi-finals alive.

The hosts won 7-6 (7/2), 6-4, 6-3 in two hours 20 minutes to make it 2-1 in their quarter-final encounter against the tournament holders.

“It was a hard match, but it makes the victory even more sweet,” Schukin said.

“We had to battle hard for every single point in such a tight match. We’re happy to beat the Davis Cup champions and continue our fight for a place in the semi-finals,” he said.

Hajek and Stepanek were playing together for the first time, and they lost the opening set in a tiebreak after both pairs had exchanged breaks.

The decisive moment in the second set arrived in the ninth game when Golubev and Schukin broke Stepanek’s serve to take a two-set lead.

The match was already almost two hours old heading into the third set, but the Czechs’ resistance would not last much longer.

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