28 May 2014

Men’s ties produce exciting finishes

Match Report

Photo: Jan-Pieter SchadeJon Rydberg (USA)

A third day of rain in Alphen meant that the men’s World Group and World Group II ties on the schedule were completed on indoor courts, with a series of exciting three set matches and two of the four men’s World Group contests and one of the four World Group contests being settled in deciding doubles rubbers.

Ninth seed Korea Republic defeated fifth seed Australia in a match tiebreak in the doubles after Ha-Gel Lee had got his country off to a fine start with a 62 62 victory over Australia’s Ben Weekes.

Adam Kellerman provided hopes of a first pool win in the men’s World Group for Australia, the 2013 World Group II champion, after he won 12 of the last 15 games against Sang Ho Oh to prevail 57 60 63. However, the doubles featured more twists as Lee and Oh came from a set down to take a commanding 7-2 lead in the match tiebreak. Weekes sprayed a forehand to give Korea its first match point and although Australia saved it, Weekes put a volley into the next to give Korea a 26 63 (10-4) victory.

Australia now meets second seed Netherlands in the last Pool B tie.   

There was also a doubles decider in the Pool A encounter between USA and Poland after Jon Rydberg gave USA the lead with a 64 06 61 win over Kamil Fabisiak. Former world No. 3 Tadeusz Kruszelnicki took the tie to the doubles after defeating former world No. 1 Steve Welch 62 60, but the combined efforts of Rydberg and Welch saw USA through to a 62 64 win and an overall 2-1 victory ahead of Poland meeting top seed and defending champion France.    

One of the most eagerly anticipated match-ups of the week in Alphen to date saw current world No.6 Gustavo Fernandez take on former world No. 2 Stefan Olsson as Argentina faced former two-time champion Sweden.

With Sweden leading the tie 1-0, Olsson took the first set of the second singles rubber, but Fernandez led the second set 3-0 when the match was suspended due to rain. Once the contest resumed indoors Fernandez went on to level the rubber, but Olsson raced through the deciding set and after his 63 16 60 win he and Peter Vikstrom, the London 2012 gold medal-winning partnership, claimed the doubles 64 60. Argentina now plays third seed Japan.

Austria also defeated Thailand 2-1 in Pool C and although Austria had an unassailable lead after the singles rubbers, that doesn’t reflect the efforts of the players, with two highly competitive singles going to a deciding set. Josef Riegler defeated Suwitchai Merngprom in a final set tiebreak, clinching a 64 26 76 victory before former world No. 3 Martin Legner held off Suthi Khlongrua 62 46 64. Austria will now meet fourth seed Great Britain in a must-win last Pool D contest for both counties.

Germany edges out Malaysia in World Group II

World Group II had its own dramatic conclusions in the Pool A tie between ninth seed Germany and seventh seed Malaysia.

Sven Hiller had to dig deep to give Germany a slender lead after a final set tiebreak against Arriffahmi Zaquan Arrifin. Hiller eventually pulled through 67(3) 63 76(5), but Abu Samah Borhan dropped just three games to Steffen Sommerfeld to maintain Malaysia’s strong challenge and send the tie to a live doubles rubber.

The final result came down to a tense match tiebreak, with Hiller and Sommerfeld sealing a 61 36 10-7 victory ahead of Malaysia meeting top seed Brazil in the last tie in the pool.

Elsewhere in World Group II there were 3-0 wins for Spain, Sri Lanka and Italy, the only three set contest in any of the three ties coming as Roberto Chamizo gave Spain an unassailable 2-0 lead against 2013 World Group II runner-up Greece.

Chamizo, formerly a winner of the World Team Cup junior title when representing Spain in 2011, beat Stefanos Diamantis 76 16 61. A combination of Alvaro Illobre and Martin Varela secured Spain’s victory ahead of a vital last Pool C contest against fourth seed Switzerland to decided which country advances to the semifnals.

Upali Rajakaruna and Gamini Dissanayake secured comfortable straight sets wins to ensure Sri Lanka of victory over Morocco before Sri Lanka’s crucial final pool B tie against second seed Belgium.

Luca Arca dropped just one game against Ciprian Anton, while Fabian Mazzei recorded a 60 60 win over Mihai Gaita as Italy completed a 3-0 victory over Romania ahead of meeting third seed Canada in the all-important last Pool D round-robin tie.