Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Taiwan wins gold in Asian Games men's team tennis

Guangzhou, Nov. 16 (CNA) No Lu Yen-hsun, no problem.

After the world No. 35 was lost to a back injury on Sunday, Taiwan thought its title chances in the Asian Games men's tennis team competition had been extinguished.

But the inspired trio of Yang Tsung-hua, Yi Chu-huan and Chen Ti overcame the setback to win the gold medal in the event on Tuesday, Taiwan's first ever men's tennis gold at an Asian Games.

In the final showdown, Taiwan beat Uzbekistan and its world No. 40 star Denis Istomin 2-1, winning one of the two singles and the decisive doubles, to clinch the country's third gold medal at the games in Guangzhou, China.

"The gold came as a total surprise, and I think it's awesome, " said Chen, who was playing singles in place of Lu.

With Yang likely to lose to Istomin in one of the singles, Chen entered Tuesday under pressure to win his singles match. Based on his patchy form in 2010 that has caused his ranking to plummet to No. 525, that was not a given.

But he played inspired tennis at times and took advantage of timely mistakes by his opponent at others to pull through with a surprisingly comfortable 6-2, 6-4 win over the 467th-ranked Murad Inoyatov.

Uzbekistan pulled even when Istomin, as expected, toppled Yang 6-4, 6-0, leaving the country's fate to the emerging doubles team of Yang and Yi.

Showing excellent chemistry and a deft touch at the net, the duo upset Uzbekistan's Inoyatov and Istomin 6-3, 6-4, going to four deuces on Yi's serve in the final game before clinching the title.

Though Lu could not play Tuesday and contributed a total of one singles win to Taiwan's victories over Cambodia, the Philippines, India and Uzbekistan, he served as Chen's coach during the day's opening singles and was thrilled by the team's performance.

"I stayed together with the team even though I could not play myself, " Lu said. "This medal was more valuable than any individual gold medal and showed our team's strength and togetherness."

In the women's team competition, Taiwan was unable to defend the gold medal it won at the 2006 Asian Games in Doha, losing to China 2-0.

Taiwan's Chang Kai-chen, succumbed to China's Peng Shuai 6-3, 7-5 in the first singles while Chan Yung-jan lost to world No. 11 Li Na in the second singles 6-1, 6-1.

Taiwan has won three gold medals at the games to date, with the other two coming in the soft tennis men's team event and men's 8-ball billiards tournament. (By Hsiao Pa-hsiang & Bear Lee) enditem/ls

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