Taiwan were on the verge of making the final in Davis Cup Asia-Oceania Group II yesterday after they cruised to a 2-0 lead against the Philippines on the Kaohsiung Yangming Tennis Courts.
Hung Jui-chen eased to a 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 victory over Jeson Patrombon in the first singles rubber on the hard courts in Kaohsiung, before world No. 61 Lu Yen-hsun gave the hosts a 2-0 lead with a comfortable victory over Patrick-John Tierro by exactly the same score.
Taiwan have the chance to clinch the match at 10am today, when Lee Hsin-han and Peng Hsien-yin take on Philippine duo Ruben Gonzales and Treat Huey in the doubles rubber.
Photo: Huang Chih-yuan, Taipei Times
Even if Lee and Peng fail, Hung and Lu will have a chance to wrap up the victory in the reverse singles at 11am tomorrow.
Although the Philippines have a 4-2 overall record against Taiwan in the Davis Cup, Taiwan won the previous two encounters in 2010 and 2011, with the Philippines’ last victory coming in 1999.
The winners go on to face Pakistan in the final on Sept. 18 after they completed a 3-1 victory over Indonesia at the Gelora Bung Karno Tennis Stadium in Jakarta on Thursday.
Taiwan are looking to bounce straight back to Asia-Oceania Group I after they were relegated when they lost 4-1 to New Zealand in a relegation playoff in October last year.
Mikhail Kukushkin and Aleksandr Nedovyesov gave Kazakhstan a commanding 2-0 lead over hosts Australia after the opening singles matches of their Davis Cup World Group quarter-final in Darwin yesterday.
Kukushkin gave the Kazakhs the early momentum with a straight sets 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 win over teenager Thanasi Kokkinakis in just over two hours.
World No. 115 Nedovyesov then stunned the 41-ranked Nick Kyrgios 7-6 (7/5), 6-7 (2/7), 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 to put Kazakhstan on the brink of reaching the Davis Cup semi-finals for the first time.
It was Kyrgios’ first loss in three matches on grass in Davis Cup competition.
Australia must win today’s doubles encounter to keep the tie alive in tomorrow’s reverse singles.
Kyrgios, who was heavily criticized by the Australian media amid claims of “tanking” during his fourth-round loss to Frenchman Richard Gasquet at Wimbledon, and also for arguing with umpires, as well as sarcasm during his press conferences, admitted the loss had left him drained.
“Physically, I felt OK. I felt like my body was good, but mentally, I almost felt a bit drained out there,” Kyrgios said.
“It was hard to focus. It was hard to dig deep. It was hard to push myself because a lot has gone on,” he added.
The disappointing outcome capped a forgettable day for Australian tennis after Bernard Tomic was arrested in the US overnight.
Kokkinakis, who was preferred to big-serving Sam Groth, was handed responsibility for opening the tie against Kazakhstan’s top-ranked player.
“I wasn’t able to find my game. And when I found it in the second set, I got broken straight back, which killed me,” Kokkinakis said. “I didn’t find my rhythm today.”
“I’m taking it pretty hard at the moment. I’m pretty disappointed,” he said.
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