Photo: Do-Won KimThailand, men's World Group 2 winners
Thailand became BNP Paribas World Team Cup men’s World Group 2 champions for the first time on Saturday after an epic second singles rubber completed a 2-0 win over second seeds South Africa at the Olympic Park Tennis Centre in Seoul, Korea Republic.
Meanwhile, Japan came from a match down to clinch bronze in the men’s World Group and Sri Lanka gained bronze in World Group 2 after defeating Germany 3-0 to complete a good day for the Asian nations.
MEN’S WORLD GROUP 2
After finishing third in the inaugural World Group 2 competition at the 2004 World Team Cup in New Zealand, fifth seeds Thailand made a fine start to their first final as Suthi Khlongrua defeated Sydwell Mathonsi 64 60.
Evans Maripa game agonisingly close to forcing a deciding doubles rubber against Suwithchai Merngprom, but two tiebreaks proved to be the difference as Merngprom secured a thrilling 76(4) 36 76(5) victory to claim the World Group 2 title.
Meanwhile, after finishing 16th in World Group 2 in their first World Team Cup in 2005 and reaching the semifinals for the first time in 2011 and the final for the first time this year, South Africa still have the chance to reach the elite tier of 12 nations in the men’s World Group for the first time when they face Belgium on Sunday.
South Africa will meet Belgium, the eleventh place team in this year’s men’s World Group, in a play-off on the final day of action.
MEN’S WORLD GROUP
Sweden and Japan, both former two-time men’s World Group champions, played for the bronze medal in this year’s BNP Paribas World Team Cup and the tie produced three highly competitive matches.
Peter Vikstrom got the better of world No. 10 Satoshi Saida Saida 63 64 in the first singles rubber. But Shingo Kunieda, who has dropped to world No. 5 this week after his recent time out of competition due to injury, held on to beat world No. 8 Stefan Olsson 76(7) 63 to forced a deciding doubles rubber between the Athens 2004 Paralympic gold medallists and Beijing 2008 bronze medallists and the Beijing 2008 silver medallists.
On the day it was Kunieda and Saida, who had lost to Olsson and Vikstrom in the Beijing semifinals in 2008, that had the upper hand this time to secure the bronze medal for Japan after a 64 63 victory.
The play-off for fifth place brought another highly competitive tie as fifth seeds Great Britain took on sixth seeds Argentina. Marc McCarroll won the opening singles against Agustin Ledesma 76(5) 63 and world No. 11 Gordon Reid upset last week’s Japan Open champion and world No. 9 Gustavo Fernandez 75 46 64 to give Great Britain a 2-0 victory.
Jon Rydberg and Stephen Welch beat Thomas Mossier and Martin Legner to give USA a 2-0 win over Austria in the play-off for seventh, while Piotr Jaroszewski and Tadeusz Kruszelnicki secured both singles rubbers in the play-off for ninth place before Poland ended their campaign as 2-1 winners over host nation Korea Republic.
Spain’s bid to avoid finishing bottom of the 12 teams in World Group 1 started well as Alvaro Illobre dropped just one game to Belgium’s Kristof Michils, but Joachim Gerard levelled the tie before partnering Roland de Meersman to a 63 63 win over Illobre and Martin Varela.
Belgium now face South Africa in the World Group play-offs on Sunday..