Cambodia’s Davis Cup pivot Bun Kenny blew a one-set advantage and slumped to a 6-3, 3-6, 3-6 defeat by Timur Khabbulin of Kazakhstan in the opening round of the $10,000 ITF Cambodian Futures for the GLF Cham Prasidh Open at the National Tennis Center yesterday.
The 24-year-old right hander seemed well set to earn a ranking point he is so desperately looking for when he led 2-0 in the second set after closing out the first with a measure of comfort.
With his rival clearly low on assurance, Kenny, instead of sharpening his knife for the kill, obligingly lapsed into a clutch of unforced errors, just the kind of prop the Kazakh was wishing for.
Weary legs and loss of momentum clearly played its part in Kenny’s drift in the decider.
In a fiercely fought 36-game duel that had the added drama of two intense tie-breaks, Dylan Seong Kwan Kim of South Korea nudged out fourth seeded Matsui Toshihide of Japan 6-7, 6-4, 7-6 to set the first-round card rolling on the second day of the competition.
Matsui, who is in his mid-30s, is one of the many players the main sponsors of the current Futures series GLF have been supporting for nearly a year now, and his appearance in Phnom Penh was of special significance for him.
The Japanese veteran served 11 aces but he also had 12 double faults compared to his South Korean rival’s consistent serving, which in the end contributed a great deal to his victory.
Last week’s beaten finalist Karunuday Singh of India got off to a sound start with a 6-2, 6-2 win over South Korea’s Kan Ho Minh while the French national junior champion Johan Sebastien Tatlot, who made a semi-final exit from the first leg as its top seed, was taken all the way before casting aside Ito Yuchi of Japan 6-4, 3-6, 6-2.
Another Japanese player to bite the dust was Ko Suzuki, who went down to South Korea’s Lee Duck Hee 3-6, 2-6.
However, in the case of Japanese third seed Niki Takuto, the story was entirely different. He proved too crafty for Cambodian Davis Cupper Mam Phalkun, who managed to win one game in the first set before being blanked out in the second.