Davis Cup round-up: India, S Korea split opening singles
Somdev Devvarman had to dig deep into his reservoir of experience to tame a fighting Hyeon Chung, but Sanam Singh lost the second singles to Yong-Kyu Lim, leaving India and South Korea locked at 1-1 at the end of Day 1, in the second round Asia/Oceania Group I tie, in Busan, on Friday.
Somdev was severely tested by a player who was making his Davis Cup debut and ranked 289 places below him before prevailing 7-6(4), 7-6(3), 6-4 after three hours and 30 minutes of intense tennis in the opening singles.
The 17-year old Korean, who was runner-up in the Wimbledon junior championship last year, showed he is progressing well before ultimately falling short against a player who does not give up easily.
Chung had Somdev gasping in the marathon rubber as he led 4-1 and 5-2 in the first two sets, before the Indian ace saved his side major embarrassment with a stunning comeback.
Sanam, chosen ahead of tall and big-serving Saketh Myneni, though could not make it an all-win day for India as he lost 6-7(5), 4-6, 4-6 to Korea's No 1 player Lim in the second rubber, which lasted two hours and 45 minutes.
Image: Somdev Devvarman of India
Photographs: Renee McKay/Getty Images
Sanam got a chance to play after Yuki was down with an injury
Sanam, who was originally drafted as a reserve along with Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan, got the chance to play after Yuki Bhambri pulled out of the tie due to a foot injury.
India could have been in a very embarrassing position had Somdev not regrouped after falling behind twice at the Spo1 Tennis Courts.
The Koreans were the underdogs to start with but they showed the visitors that tie would not be a walk in the park for them.
Friday’s result means that Rohan Bopanna and Saketh Myneni must win on Saturday in the doubles rubber against Hyung-Taik Lee and Sang-Woo Noh to ease off the pressure on the team.
It will be the second time that the seasoned Bopanna and Myneni will play together in a Davis Cup tie.
Victory will leave India requiring only one point on the last day to secure a berth to the World Group play-offs.
Image: Sanam Singh
Photographs: Hannah Peters/Getty Images
Stepanek gives Czechs 1-0 lead vs Japan
Radek Stepanek gave champions Czech Republic a 1-0 lead in their Davis Cup quarter-final against Japan when he came from a set down to beat Tatsuma Ito 6-7(5), 7-6(5), 6-1, 7-5 in Tokyo on Friday.
The 35-year-old former World No 8 fired down 18 aces to quell the challenge of his 146th ranked opponent in three hours, 53 minutes at the Ariake Coliseum after going down in a tight first set tiebreak.
The Czechs, who are targeting a third successive title, will look to lock up an imposing 2-0 lead when Lukas Rosol takes on 21-year-old Taro Daniel in the second singles rubber later on Friday.
Ito and Daniel are bearing the weight of Japan's hopes of progressing after world number 18 Kei Nishikori withdrew with a groin strain and Go Soeda was laid low by a fever.
Image: Radek Stepanek of Czech Republic hugs his coach after winning the match against Tatsuma Ito of Japan in their Davis Cup world group quarter-finals in Tokyo on Friday
Photographs: Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images