Jackie Tang and Jack Wong both won their opening singles in straight sets to propel Hong Kong to a 2-0 lead against Iran in the Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Zone Group II first round tie at Victoria Park.
「We had high hopes that both Jackie and Jack can give a good account of themselves in today’s opening singles and they did not disappoint,」 said Captain Yu Hiu Tung. 「However, even though we have a 2-0 lead, we must not get complacent. Kevin and Brian will do everything they possibly can to get the job done in Sunday’s doubles.」
First up in the opening singles, Shahin Khaledan and Jackie Tang had the spectators on the edge of their seats, as the two players were engaged in a dogfight characterized by protracted rallies back and forth on almost every point.
However, it was Khaledan who made the first move when he broke the 19-year-old Tang to lead 2-1. To his credit, the teenager managed to produce a service break of his own to draw level at 2-2.
After both players held for 3-3, Khaledan made the breakthrough again when Tang squandered three game points to lose serve.
Yet, once again, the sophomore from Columbia was quick to make amends, as he broke back to force a 4-4 impasse.
Tang then had two set points with Khaledan serving to stay in the set at 5-6, but each time the Iranian conjured a blistering backhand down-the-line winner to ward off the looming danger before he finally held to extend matters into a tiebreak.
The Hong Kong Davis Cupper managed to hold firm, producing three mini-breaks and kept a clean sheet on his own serves to dominate the breaker, 7-1.
With momentum on his side, Tang quickly staked himself to a double break 4-0 lead in the second set. Even though Khaledan reclaimed one of those service breaks, Tang still led 5-3 going into the ninth game.
With the Iranian needing to hold just to remain afloat, he saved two match points to hold for 5-4 after four long deuces. In the ensuing game, Khaledan again warded off another pair of match points courtesy of some tentative play from his opponent before Tang finally held his serve to win, 7-6(1), 6-4.
In the second singles, Jack Wong coughed up a couple of lackadaisical games towards the business end of both sets against unranked Mohsen Hosseinzadeh but still had too much game for his opponent.
「I played all right. I knew I had to stay focused and play consistent enough to win today and that’s what I did,」 said Jack Wong.
The Hong Kong number one broke Hosseinzadeh early and jumped out to a 3-0 lead. Wong added a second break to go up 5-1 but wasted a couple of set points to lose serve, as Hosseinzadeh pegged the score back to 5-2.
Wong was able to regroup and broke back immediately to take the opening set, 6-2.
The second set was a mirror image of the first, as Wong catapulted to a double break 5-1 advantage only to see his opponent fight back momentarily to 5-3 before he held for 6-3 to win in straight sets.
With a momentous 2-0 lead, Kevin Wong and Brian Yeung, who combined for a bronze at the World University Games last year, will attempt to clinch the tie for Hong Kong on Sunday when the pair takes on Iranian stalwarts Anoosha Shahgholi and Ashkan Shokoofi in the all-important doubles.
Davis Cup by BNP Paribas
Asia/Oceania Zone Group II First Round
Victoria Park Tennis Stadium, Hong Kong
Feb 3-4, 2018
R1 Jackie Tang (HKG) d. Shahin Khaledan (IRI) 7-6(1) 6-4
R2 Jack Wong (HKG) d. Mohsen Hosseinzadeh (IRI) 6-2 6-3
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