29 Sep 2013

Spain and Korea, Rep. to face off in Final

Match Report

By Max Woodward

Photo: Susan MullaneYun Seong Chung and Kukeon Kang (KOR)

Spain and Korea, Rep. will meet in the Final of the 2013 Junior Davis Cup by BNP Paribas on Sunday after both teams came through their semifinals on Saturday.

Spain were the first team through to Sunday’s final after they defeated Germany 2-0. Pedro Martinez Portero got Spain off to a flying start when he defeated German No. 3 Tim Sandkaulen. Martinez Portero had won three of his four matches in the group stages whereas Sandkaulen was making his first appearance in this year’s Finals.

The first game of the opening set directed the tone for the rest of the match as Sandkaulen held after the game had reached deuce twice. Portero broke in the fifth game of the match and then consolidated the break when he held a 12-point game. That solitary break was enough to seal the first set which Portero claimed 64.

The first game of the second set was an almost carbon copy of the first game of the opening set, with one major difference – Portero broke. Sandkaulen was unable to recover a break of serve in the set and lost when Portero claimed his second break at 5-3, sealing a 64 63 victory and giving Spain one foot in the Final.

The other foot, however, was a way away as Spain’s No. 1 Jaume Antoni Munar Clar went up against Alexander Zverev, the world No. 2 in the junior rankings. Munar Clar was unfazed, however, and raced into a 5-2 lead in the opening set with Zverev struggling to find his best form. The German fought back, recovering the two breaks of serve but then some sloppy play saw him surrender another break and this time Munar Clar was not going to let the opportunity pass him by. He served out the first set 75.

Zverev got off to a much better start to the second set, breaking in the second game to open a 2-0 lead. That break, however, sparked a run and five more breaks followed it before Munar Clar halted the run by holding serve for 4-4. By that time, there was no stopping the Spanish No. 1 and he broke once again to lead 5-4 before serving the tie out and booking Spain’s place in the Final.

The second semifinal saw Korea, Rep. take on Australia and the Koreans got off to much the better start. The opening rubber saw Kukeon Kang, unbeaten in his six rubbers in the group stage, take on Oliver Anderson, unbeaten in his five group stage matches.

Kang flew out of the blocks, breaking the Anderson serve in the opening game of the match. The fifth game saw four deuces but saw Anderson eventually hold to stay just one break behind. That hold proved vital for Anderson’s confidence as he broke in the very next game to level the set. However, that break was followed by three more which left Kang serving for the set and he did not disappoint, comfortably holding to take the set 64.

Anderson was disheartened following the loss of the set and Kang took full advantage winning the first four games. Anderson fought back to recover one of the breaks of serve, but there was no stopping Kang who broke once more and served the match out for a 64 62 win.

The second rubber was a real battle as the two number ones, Seongchan Hong and Marc Polmans went up against each other.

The first three games of the match were all breaks of serve before Hong eventually held to move 3-1 ahead. The next game was pivotal. With Polmans serving at 1-3, he saved two break points to eventually come through a 20-point game which featured seven deuces.

The very next game was 16 points long, had five deuces and was once again held by the server as Hong moved 4-2 ahead. Polmans held his next service game before breaking Hong’s serve to level the set at 4-4. Hong fought back and forced a break to move 6-5 ahead and serve for the opening set. He missed out on four set points before eventually converting his fifth to take the set 75 and put Korea one set from the final.

The second set was just as tight as the first. The opening six games were all held before Hong got a crucial break to move 4-3 ahead. Polamns could not recover the break and Hong served for the match at 5-4. He quickly moved 40-0 up before surrendering all three match points and the game went to deuce. The very next point, Hong stretched for a ball and pulled a muscle in his right leg, which required treatment.

He came out after the medical time out facing break point and could not save it as Polmans levelled the set. Polmans easily held serve to move 6-5 ahead and force Hong to serve to stay in the set. Hong showed great character to hold and force a tiebreak but his injury told as Polmans won all 7 points to level the match.

Hong’s injury hampered his ability to run in the final set and Polmans capitalised, taking it 60 and levelling the tie at 1-1 to force the deciding doubles rubber.

The doubles saw Korean pair Yun Seong Chung and Kang take on Australians Akira Santillan and Anderson. The first set wen to a tiebreak which the Koreans won 7-5. This was all the impetus they needed as they cantered through the second set taking it 62 and booked their place in the Final.

Elsewhere on Saturday, Argentina defeated Mexico 2-0 and Peru defeated Netherlands 2-0 in the 13th-16th place play-offs.