Photo: Jan-Willem de LangeTakuya Miki (JPN)
Third seed Japan beat two-time former champion Sweden in a deciding doubles in the men’s World Group on a fascinating first day of round-robin pool ties at the 2014 BNP Paribas World Team Cup, when rain interrupted the ties being played on the outdoor courts at Niuewe Sloot Tennis Centre in Alphen.
Japan eventually completed its victory indoors with second seed Germany and USA still to play a deciding match tiebreak in their women’s World Group tie.
Former world No. 2 Stefan Olsson beaten current world No. 8 Takuya Miki 63 63 to level Sweden’s Pool D tie against past champion Japan after world No. 10 Takashi Sanada had dropped just two games to Peter Vikstrom in the opening rubber.
The rain started to fall before the deciding doubles could begin and the tie was completed on an indoor court. Sanada was the only player on court not to have a Paralympic doubles gold medal, but he combined to great effect with Satoshi Saida to record a 64 63 victory for Japan after London 2012 champions Olsson and Vikstrom had come from 4-1 down in the second set to get to within a game of their opponents.
“To play indoors after playing on the clay outdoors is very different, so we decided we play aggressive tennis and we are very happy with the win,” said Saida. “Takashi played very well and is very pleased after playing with three Paralympic gold medallists.”
Defending champion France got off to a fine start as Frederic Cattaneo and Nicolas Peifer won both singles rubbers against Jon Rydberg and Steve Welch to give the top seed an unassailable 2-0 lead over former nine-time champion USA in their Pool A tie.
Meanwhile, in Pool B second seed Netherlands and Korea Republic are set to continue their tie on the second day of play, having been in the second set of their first singles rubber when play was suspended. Fourth seed Great Britain also led Thailand after the first singles rubber of their Pool C tie and they are also set to resume their contest on Tuesday.
Germany and USA women set for match tiebreak
Second seed Germany and 1994 women’s World Group champion USA had their Pool B contest brought to a halt by the rain at a crucial time, with the two teams level at a set apiece in the deciding doubles rubber of their tie.
Former world No. 10 Kaitlyn Verfuerth beat Bianca Osterer 64 64 in the opening singles rubber before current world No. 9 Katharina Kruger forced the doubles rubber with a 63 63 victory over Emmy Kaiser. The same four players split the first two sets of the deciding doubles, Germany winning the first set 6-3, and USA taking the second set 6-3 before the rain started, with the match tiebreak still to come.
Netherlands beat Kenya 3-0 after Sharon Walraven and Marjolein Buis both recorded 60 60 wins over Jane Ndenga and Phoebe Masika to give the defending champions an unassailable lead over Kenya, the winner of the African Qualification earlier this year to earn its BNP Paribas World Team Cup debut. Aniek van Koot partnered Walraven to also win the doubles rubber 60 60 in Pool A.
Third seed Japan and fourth seed Great Britain also recorded 3-0 wins over Colombia and Chinese Tapei respectively. Miho Nijo and current world No. 1 Yui Kamiji both won their singles rubbers against Johana Martinez and Angelica Bernal 62 60 to put the result of Japan’s Pool D tie against Colombia beyond doubt.
Great Britain’s Louise Hunt and Jordanne Whiley dropped a total of just four games between them against Chinese Taipei’s Chia-Yi Lu and Yi-Shan Wu as the 2013 runner-up started Pool C with a comprehensive victory.
Switzerland beats 2013 World Group II runner-up Greece
Fourth seed Switzerland, runner-up in the BNP Paribas World Team European Qualification earlier this year, made a tremendous start to its opening men’s World Group II Pool C round-robin tie against Greece, the runner-up in World Group II in 2013, as Raphael Gremion powered to a 60 60 win over Epameinondas Stamatis.
Stefanos Diamantis kept Greece’s early challenge on course in dramatic circumstances, coming from a set down to beat Daniel Pellegrina 36 64 63, but Gremion and Pellegrina proved the stronger partnership in the deciding doubles rubber to defeat Diamantis and Stamatis 62 64.
Philippe Bedard, Joel Dembe and Jean Sylvestre dropped just two games in a 3-0 Pool D win for Canada as the only other World Group II tie to be completed resulted in a difficult BNP Paribas World Team Cup debut for Romania. Both games that Romania won were in the doubles rubber.
World Group II top seed Brazil will have to come from a rubber down to win its opening Pool A tie against Germany after Sven Hiller won the important points to edge out Carlos Santos 64 75. Daniel Rodrigues revived Brazilian fortunes when taking the first set of the second singles runner against Steffen Sommerfeld 7-5, with Sommerfeld leading the second set 4-3 when the match was suspended.
Second seed Belgium and Morocco had their Pool B tie interrupted before starting their deciding doubles rubber after world No. 4 Joachim Gerard beat Lhaj Boukartacha 62 63 to level the contest, with Belgium having also dropped the first singles rubber. Mike Denayer and Gerard, previously winners of the World Team Cup junior title for Belgium, will resume the tie when they face Boukartacha and Ayoub Ettali in the doubles.