Radek Stepanek and Lukas Rosol gave champions the Czech Republic a 2-0 lead in their Davis Cup World Group quarter-final against Japan after hard-fought victories in their singles matches in Tokyo yesterday.
Former world No. 8 Stepanek came from a set down to beat Tatsuma Ito 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (7/5), 6-1, 7-5, before Rosol survived a mid-match meltdown to overcome 21-year-old Taro Daniel 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 6-2 in the second rubber.
Stepanek, 35, fired down 18 aces to quell the challenge of his 146th-ranked opponent in 3 hours, 53 minutes at the Ariake Colosseum after going down in a tight first-set tiebreak.
“The second set was bit scary, he got to a set point, but I played an unbelievable volley on the set point which I think was a very important moment of the match,” Stepanek said. “I was able to sneak out from the tiebreak. Sometimes you have days when you are not playing your best tennis, but you always have to find a way through.”
Rosol, ranked 40th, twice broke Daniel’s serve in each of the first two sets to surge ahead, but the Japanese debutant fought back, bagging the next two sets to even the rubber out at 2-2.
The Czech got an early break in the final set and also converted his second break point to seal the match out after 3 hours, 12 minutes.
Ito and Daniel are bearing the weight of Japan’s hopes after world No. 18 Kei Nishikori withdrew with a groin strain and Go Soeda was laid low by a fever.
CHINA 1, UZBEKISTAN 1
AFP, TIANJIN, China
China and Uzbekistan shared the spoils on the opening day of their Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Group 1 tie yesterday in two grueling five-set matches.
Zhang Ze took a 2-1 set lead against Denis Istomin in the opening match of the tie, but the Uzbek — who is ranked 54th, 150 places above his opponent — recovered to take the final two sets, eventually winning 6-4, 4-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.
China’s top player Wu Di, ranked 195th, was crushed 6-1 by Farrukh Dustov in their opening set, but took the following two sets on tiebreaks, only to lose the fourth and set up a decider.
With no tiebreak in the final set, it lasted 16 games before 22-year-old Wu finally overcame his opponent 1-6, 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7-4), 3-6, 9-7 to the joy of the home crowd at the Tianjin Tennis Centre.
SOUTH KOREA 1, INDIA 1
AFP, BUSAN, South Korea
South Korea and India took an opening singles match each in their Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Group 1 tie yesterday in the southern South Korean port city of Busan.
Somdev Devvarman defeated Chung Hyeon in straight sets, 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/3), 6-4, in the first match on the hard court, but Lim Yong-kyu turned the tables for the hosts, defeating Sanam Singh 7-6 (7/5), 6-4, 6-4 to level the tie at 1-1.
Devvarman, ranked 88th, was pushed to tiebreaks in the first two sets against 377th-ranked Chung. At 4-4 in the third set, Devvarman broke Chung’s serve and held his opponent to complete the straight-sets victory.
Lim, ranked 300th, edged out 371st-ranked Singh in the tiebreak of their opening set and then won the second set comfortably.
The third set went to 4-4 before Lim secured the crucial break and then served out for the set and the match.