The official draw for this weekend’s Davis Cup by BNP Paribas A/O Zone Group II first round tie between Hong Kong, China and Iran has pitched Jackie Tang against Iranian No. 1 Shahin Khaledan first up in Saturday’s opening singles, followed by Jack Wong versus Mohsen Hosseinzadeh.
Sunday’s all-important doubles will see the mercurial local duo of Kevin Wong and Brian Yeung crossing swords with veterans Anoosha Shahgholi and Ashkan Shokoofi.
The reverse singles, which take place after the doubles on Sunday also, will see Jack Wong clash with opposing number one Shahin Khaledan in the fourth rubber, followed by Jackie Tang versus Mohsen Hosseinzadeh.
Aside from 2008, 2010, and 2012, Anoosha Shahgholi, who turns 37 later this year, has played Davis Cup for his country every year since making his debut in 1998. He alone holds Iran’s all-time record in Most Total Wins (38-27), Most Singles Wins (27-16), Most Ties Played (44), and Most Years Played (17)
“Judging from their line-up, Iran has obviously opted not to involve Shahgholi in singles in the early going at least and saving him for the crucial doubles. On paper, it looks like they are gunning for Khaledan to pick up his point on Day 1 and, if they can steal the doubles, then they will have an opportunity to go for the tie-clincher in the reverse singles,” said Captain Yu Hiu Tung.
Match results on the ITF Pro Circuit show that while Khaledan is still actively competing in Futures events with some degree of regularity, Shokoofi, who also turns 37 this year, did not take part in any Davis Cup ties after 2013, and only came back 12 months ago to help his team stave off relegation by taking the doubles against Vietnam.
Khaledan, at No. 1331, is the only Iranian player with a current ATP singles ranking in his side, while Hosseinzadeh last held an ATP singles ranking back in 2011.
That said, in the most recent meeting between two teams in Group III in 2016, Iran took both singles courtesy of Shahgholi and Khaledan to beat Hong Kong 2-1. Yet, with this weekend’s tie being held on the pacier hardcourts of Victoria Park as opposed to the Iranian team’s preferred clay surface, homecourt advantage could potentially play big.
As the Captain concurs, a good start right from the get go will be vital, and the opening singles between Tang and Khaledan is shaping up to be an intriguing one.
Tickets for the tie are complimentary. Head down to Victoria Park this Saturday and Sunday and see your Hong Kong Davis Cup team in action! Don’t miss it. Starts 2pm sharp.
Davis Cup by BNP Paribas
Asia/Oceania Zone Group II First Round
Feb 3-4, 2018
Saturday (Feb 3)
R1 Jackie Tang (HKG) v Shahin Khaledan (IRI)
R2 Jack Wong (HKG) v Mohsen Hosseinzadeh (IRI)
Sunday (Feb 4)
R3 Kevin Wong/Brian Yeung (HKG) v Anoosha Shahgholi/Ashkan Shokoofi (IRI)
R4 Jack Wong (HKG) v Shahin Khaledan (IRI)
R5 Jackie Tang (HKG) v Mohsen Hosseinzadeh (IRI)
Images: Takumi Photography