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2022-09-22

DAVIS CUP 2022 WORLD GROUP II FIRST ROUND

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DAVIS CUP 2022 WORLD GROUP II FIRST ROUND

In Taipei, 18-year-old Coleman Wong saved a match point and came from a set down to beat Jason Jung, 1-6, 6-4, 7-6(8), to give Hong Kong, China a 1-0 lead before the higher-ranked Taiwanese came back strong to take the next three rubbers to solidify a 3-1 overall victory in the 2022 Davis Cup by Rakuten World Group II First Round tie over the weekend.  Hong Kong, China will now join Uruguay, Lebanon, Egypt, Bolivia, Estonia, Tunisia, El Salvador, Indonesia, South Africa, Barbados, and the Dominican Republic in the World Group II Play-offs in 2023.

「Mixed emotions, really, for I am both elated and disappointed,」 lamented Captain Yu Hiu Tung, who was a recipient of the Davis Cup Commitment Award in 2015.  「Elated because we were able to do what we came here to do.  Fight for every ball and push them as hard as we could.  Their No. 1 wasn’t here this week and they still had the luxury of fielding much higher-ranked players from top to bottom, so they were obviously the favourites, but our young guy Coleman pulled off a good win to beat an experienced and more accomplished opponent.」

「Disappointed at the same time because we came so close to grabbing the doubles as well.  Our pairing on Sunday both played well against much higher-ranked opponents.  Even though it was a late call-up, Kevin showed once again his prowess in doubles.  His presence, no doubt, lifted the play of his partner,」 he added.

In the opening singles, Jason Jung, four times a Challenger winner and a Universiade singles gold medalist, barely missed a shot in the first set and broke Coleman Wong three times, who was mired in a slow start, while limiting the Hong Kong No. 1 to just 25% on 2nd Serve Points Won.  The scouting report from atp.com reads: 「He uses his physical conditioning to saw off his opponent’s legs by extending points with good defence. Jung also attempts to win the mental battle with good tactics and disciplined shot selection. He prefers to play medium-risk tennis and bait his opponent into going for high-risk winners. Jung then wants to break his opponent’s spirit with intense hustle and persistence.」  In his career, Jung has beaten the likes of Alexander Bublik, Kevin Anderson, Frances Tiafoe, Cam Norrie, and Reilly Opelka.

From 2-1 up, the Taiwanese sped away with the last four games to win it 6-1, barely making a wrong move.  In the second set, Jung threatened straightaway, but Wong managed to save a break point before holding for 1-1.  The players then exchanged a break mid-way to make it 3-3.  After Jung went up 4-3, Wong was staring at a 30-40 deficit on his serve and to concede a break here could spell trouble.  Not only did he even proceedings at 4-4, Wong broke Jung to 15 in the ensuing game to serve for the set.  He duly held at love to secure it, 6-4.

By this stage, Jung, who easily beat a 15-year-old Wong last time out in 2019, was beginning to slow down under the unrelenting midday sun, while the teenager’s game was on the ascendancy and he was subjecting the wily veteran into making more forced errors as the match went along.  In the 3rd set, Jung broke Wong in the second game to go up 2-0, but the HK rep responded by winning the next four in a row to jump out to a 4-2 vantage point.  Then, in the next game, he had Jung in all sorts of trouble but the former Michigan standout fought tooth and nail to save three break points to hold serve to peg the score back to 4-3.  After Wong held easily for 5-3, he had a match point with Jung serving at 30-40 but he could not convert, as his opponent again struggled to hold to make it 5-4.   The Taiwan rep then broke Wong and held to love to stake himself a dangerous 6-5 lead, but the teenager did well under pressure to hold on to force a tiebreak.

It was a roller-coaster of momentum shifts, first with Wong grabbing the first three points for a 3-0 lead.  Jung then returned the favour and stole the next five to retake a 5-3 advantage.  Wong again snagged three on the trot to go up 6-5 and now a second match point in hand.  However, it was Jung’s turn to serve and he delivered both points to go match point up instead, 7-6.  Yet, the HK rep was unfazed and held his next two serves to retake an 8-7 lead.  Jung won his next point on serve to even the score at 8-8 but then coughed up a mini-break to fall behind 9-8.  Wong did not disappoint the third time round and held sway for 10-8.

Game, set, and match, Hong Kong, China, 1-6, 6-4, 7-6(8).

Back in September 2019, Chinese Taipei came to Victoria Park and won the Group II opening round tie 4-0 against Hong Kong, China.  Coleman Wong made his Davis Cup debut then, losing to Jung first-up, 6-1, 6-2.  The former All-American from Umich was then ranked ATP No. 132.  This week, he is at a more modest No. 449 and his best result so far this season had been a pair of quarterfinal appearances at the Monterrey Challenger in Mexico in March and the Nottingham Challenger on grass prior to Wimbledon.

In the remaining singles on Saturday, ATP No. 185 Wu Tung-Lin, who won the Tallahassee Challenger 80 title and finished runner-up at the Little Rock Challenger 100 to Jason Kubler this year, used his consistent serve and heavier groundstrokes to dictate play right from the jump.  Although Jack Wong briefly took a 2-0 lead early in the second set, Wu quickly reestablished the status quo and found the lead again and never wavered, winning the last six games of their contest in a row to triumph in straight sets, 6-2, 6-2.

「His serves aren’t really that big, but they come at decent speed and high accuracy.  Extremely solid from the baseline and the pace is fast and aggressive because he really steps in on every shot,」 said Jack Wong, who played Wu once before in the semifinals of the Macau ITF Junior Championships in 2012.

In the crucial doubles, Kevin Wong, who last played in 2018 and is 7-1 in career Davis Cup doubles, was brought in to anchor and complement Coleman Wong’s fast-paced game.  Teaming up for the first time together, the duo faced off against ATP No. 158 Hsu Yu Hsiou, who has eight M25 titles this year alone, and 22-year-old debutante Ray Ho, who has won three times on the pro circuit in 2022.  In 2017, Hsu was the No. 5-ranked junior in the world and won the boys』 doubles at the Australian, French, and US Open that year.

After the HK duo conceded serve to trail 2-1 in the opening set, they broke back twice in succession to stake themselves a 5-2 lead before producing a love hold in the end to claim it 6-3.  Then, following a break each early in the second, Wong and Wong broke Hsu in the fifth game and consolidated for a 4-2 lead.  In the ensuing game, the HK reps had three break points on Ho’s serve, first at 15-40, then again following deuce, but could not capitalise, as the Taiwanese held to make it 4-3.  The next game saw Kevin Wong double fault at 15-40 to lose serve tamely.  Then, at 5-5 with Ho serving, the Taiwanese pair blew three game points from 40-0 up but again saved a break point to hold for 6-5.  At 30-30 in the ensuing game, Coleman Wong double faulted before winning the next three points in a row to send proceedings to a tiebreak.  However, Hsu and Ho, out of nowhere, raced to a 6-0 lead before settling for a 7-1 scoreline to force a decider.

In the third set, servers dominated the early going and there were no break point chances until the fifth game when Coleman Wong double faulted to fall behind 15-40 but the HK duo wrestled the next four points to hold for 3-2.  Then, with Wong and Wong leading 5-4, Hsu was serving down 30-40 but saved consecutive break points to hold for 5-5.  Then in the twelfth game, Ho, who had been exhibiting stage fright during various moments of the contest,, squandered a game point at 40-30 to let the HK pair back to deuce.  However, the Davis Cup debutante somehow made a first serve winner one after the other to save four straight break points before finally holding on dearly for 6-6.

Wong and Wong led 2-1 but yielded two mini-breaks to trail 3-2.    They then got one of the mini-breaks back to force a 3-3 impasse before the Taiwanese threw down an ace to lead 4-3.  The HK pair held their next two serves to go up 5-4.  Ditto Hsu and Ho and they now led 6-5.  With their first and only match point in hand, the Taiwanese converted successfully with a mini-break. 

Game, set, and match, Chinese Taipei, 3-6, 7-6(1), 7-6(5).

The No. 1 from each side then squared off in the opening reverse singles on Sunday, pitting Coleman Wong up against No. 185 Wu Tung-Lin.  Unfortunately, according to 2022 Davis Cup Regulations Section 51.1.2.2, only an interval of 30 minutes is permitted between any singles and doubles matches played on the same day and it was difficult to recover following the high-octane doubles in such a quick turnaround to realistically challenge a well-rested opponent ranked some 850 places higher.  Wu eventually connected on 5 of 6 break point opportunities and faced zero break points on his own serve the entire match.  He won over 80% of his first serves and amassed a Total Points Won advantage of 56 to 26. 

Game, set, and match, Chinese Taipei, 6-1, 6-2.

Hong Kong, China will now head to the World Group II Play-offs in 2023 together with Uruguay, Lebanon, Egypt, Bolivia, Estonia, Tunisia, El Salvador, Indonesia, South Africa, Barbados, and the Dominican Republic.

Historical Data

Hong Kong, China and Chinese Taipei have met nine times in the Davis Cup.  On three occasions, the two sides fought to a 2-2 standstill, but it was Kelvin Inge’s lone triumph in the fifth and deciding rubber in 1984 that cemented Team HK’s maiden victory in the competition.  However, the face-off over the past weekend has been the closest in recent memory, at least since the 3-2 loss in 1998 when Melvin Tong claimed both his singles away from home to pull the team back on level terms, first to 1-1, and then to 2-2.  Since Hong Kong first competed in the Davis Cup in 1970, only four players have managed to win three live rubbers in a tie – Kelvin Inge in Singapore in 1985, Michael Walker in Pakistan in 1992, Melvin Tong in Saudi Arabia in 1997, and Martin Sayer in Sri Lanka in 2010.

Results
World Group II First Round
Taipei Tennis Center, Taipei City
Sep 17-18, 2022

TPE defeated HKG 3-1

R1 Coleman Wong (HKG) d. Jason Jung (TPE) 1-6 6-4 7-6(8)
R2 Wu Tung-Lin (TPE) d. Jack Wong (HKG) 6-2 6-2
R3 Hsu Yu Hsiou/Ray Ho (TPE) d. Coleman Wong/Kevin Wong (HKG) 3-6 7-6(1) 7-6(5)
R4 Wu Tung-Lin (TPE) d. Coleman Wong (HKG) 6-1 6-2 R5 Not Played

Nominations
Chinese Taipei: Wu Tung-Lin, Hsu Yu Hsiou, Jason Jung, Ray Ho, Yang Tsung-Hua, Chang Hsiao-Yung (Captain)

Hong Kong, China: Coleman Wong, Jack Wong, Kevin Wong, Dasson Chan, Yu Hiu Tung (Captain)