Uzbekistan is the first team through to the second round of Asia/Oceania Zone Group I, after Farrukh Dustov and Denis Istomin defeated the less experienced pairing of New Zealand’s Marcus Daniell and Michael Venus 76(5) 63 64 in Saturday’s doubles rubber.
In their ninth outing together as a Davis Cup doubles team, Dustov and Istomin ensured that the Uzbek team couldn’t have had a better weekend in its hometown of Namangan, with the home nation’s 3-0 unassailable victory coming without the loss of a set in two days. Dustov and Istomin had also been responsible for Friday’s singles victories.
It was an inevitable victory for captain Petr Lebed’s team, having come into the weekend with a full-strength side and facing an opponent that just didn’t have the weapon of a Top 100 player. Uzbekistan is now just one win away from reaching its sixth World Group play-off, the stage they most recently reached in 2009, when it lost to Serbia 5-0. The second round will be played alongside the World Group quarterfinals in July.
At 0-2 down, Philippines playing captain Cecil Mamiit took the decision to team with Treat Huey for their doubles match against Japan, hoping that the magic they produced last time round would save an early exit in Cebu. The pair were the backbone that saved Philippines in its 0-2 winning comeback against Korea six months ago, and so again they would dig deep to keep the repeat story alive.
Huey was back on court after pulling out of Friday’s singles with a left knee injury sustained in practice. The left-right handed duo suffered a slight lapse in concentration in the second set, perhaps kindled by a worrying incident in the chair when umpire Abdelraoof Abdulsalam sprained his knee while descending to check a ball mark. But their experience together ensured they beat the first-time partnership of Yuichi Sugita and Takao Suzuki 61 76(5) 62.
It was compensation for Mamiit after Friday’s gruelling five-set singles loss to Tatsuma Ito the previous day. But the 34 year old’s job isn’t done just yet, as he attempts to keep Philippines in the tie by defeating Go Soeda in the battle of the number No. 1s on Sunday. The two have met four times in their career and have shared spoils. Should Philippines force a fifth rubber once again, it will be down, most likely, to Huey and Ito to decide the fate of the tie.
The tie between China P.R. and Chinese Taipei once again wasn’t short of drama. After two five-set battles on Friday, where both victors, China’s Mao-Xin Gong and Di Wu, saved match points to hand China the 2-0 lead, it was Taipei’s turn this time to come through the other side in tense fashion.
Yen-Hsun Lu and Tsung-Hua Yang, who both endured Friday’s exhausting losses, teamed for the first time in Davis Cup to defeat Gong and Zhe Li 75 64 67(3) 76(4) in 3 hours 44 minutes. It took them the a total of six match points to seal the crucial win for Taipei, after snagging three in the third set, two in the fourth, before sealing in the tiebreak 7-4.
Lu joins Mamiit in having the unenviable but necessary task of producing a win in the first of Sunday’s reverse singles to keep their nation’s hopes alive. The world No. 42 will meet Gong across the net for the first time.