HK face battle to avoid the drop
Hong Kong will have to win both today's reverse singles to avoid relegation into the Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Zone Group Three after ending the first day 2-1 down to Sri Lanka in the play-off at Victoria Park last night.
With rain having washed out play on Friday, both the opening singles as well as the doubles in the relegation encounter were played yesterday and it was Sri Lanka who emerged in front, despite a battling performance from Jonathan Chu who won his singles and came close to inspiring doubles teammate Yu Hiu-tung to a win.
It was not to be. Yu, who had lost his singles match to fellow-left hander Harshana Godamanna 3-1, failed to hold his nerve with Hong Kong leading 5-3 in the fifth set of the doubles and dropped his serve at the most crucial moment of the game to give the Sri Lankans a reprieve.
Godamanna and Rajeev Rajapakse did not need another invitation to finish off the match. And buoyed by the momentum from that break of serve, and urged on by a small but vocal contingent of fans - including one particularly vociferous lady - won the next three games to clinch a thrilling final set and win 6-3, 6-3, 6-7 (4-7), 2-6, 7-5.
'We couldn't quite hold on to the momentum that saw us come back from two sets down,' said Hong Kong non-playing captain Andy Brothers. 'It [momentum] shifted a number of times during the match, and unfortunately for us we finished on the losing side. One or two points our way and we could have been 2-1 up entering the last day.'
That luxury belongs to Sri Lanka. Promoted from Group Three last year, they are determined to stay up. It will be up to Chu to keep Hong Kong's hopes alive as he faces Sri Lankan number one Godamanna in the first of the two reverse singles today.
Chu will have to dig deep as he has already been through the wringer, returning to the court just hours after he had given his team a lifeline by defeating Dineshkanthan Thangarajah 7-6 (7-2), 6-2, 2-6, 6-2 in the second of the opening singles.
'Jon played well today, but he will have to go out and play a little bit better tomorrow,' said Brothers.
An out-of-sorts Yu, who lost the first match 3-6, 7-6 (7-5), 1-6, 2-6 to Godamanna, will play the second of the reverse singles against Thangarajah. Hong Kong will be praying that the tie is still alive then.