The second week of the Cambodian $10,000 ITF Futures series for the GLF Cham Prasidh Cup was off to a sensational start at the National Training Center yesterday with the off-court drama of two high-profile withdrawals adding to the excitement of Bun Kenny partnering former world No 12 Dominik Hrbaty of Slovakia to a first round victory in doubles.
Just a couple of hours before the singles main draw matches were to begin, last week’s singles and doubles winner Andrew Whittington withdrew from both of his engagements due to a sore back.
By a quirk of strange coincidence, the fifth seeded Australian was to play in the first round his doubles partner Gavin van Peperzeel, whom he had beaten in Saturday’s final in straight sets. A lucky loser from the qualifying rounds has now moved up to take Whittington’s place in the draw.
While the news of the Ford Cup winner’s unexpected departure created a buzz around the centre, there was another surprise in store for the ITF Supervisor Puneet Gupta to deal with. This time it was Thailand’s Danai Udomchoke retiring from his first round match against Yusuke Watanuki of Japan after having won the first set at 6-4 but down 1-4 in the second.
All Udomchoke would say after getting out of the court was that he felt “tired” and that he was not mentally in it. “I have been playing for the last eight weeks. I started feeling that I am just not there,” Udomchoke, winner of Cambodia’s first ever Futures event in 2011, told the Post.
In the day’s order of business on Court 1, Cambodia’s Davis Cupper Mam Phalkun played the opening match as a wildcard against Hyun Woo Nam of South Korea.
It was apparent after the first few games that the Korean would take absolute control of the court. So he did, winning without conceding a single game.
Dominik Hrbaty’s reputation precedes him where ever he goes. The Slovakian has long given up competitive tennis, turning his focus instead on coaching. But his record when on tour against the current top players – 3-1 against Nadal, 2-1 against Federer and 1-1 with Djokovic – will forever keep reminding the tennis world of his salad days.
“I play 20 per cent of what I used to. I just want to help the players I play with,” Hrbaty told the Post after wrapping up with Bun Kenny a 6-4, 3-6, 10-6 (super tie break) win over Nicolas Ernst of Germany and his Romanian partner Catalin Ionut Gard.
One of the top players in the pro-circuit in the mid 2000s, Hrbaty is here as a coach with Patrick Davidson of the United States.
In other first round singles matches, sixth seeded Josh Goodall of Great Britain defeated Mico Santiago of the United States 7-5, 6-1 while Robin Olin of Sweden swept past Arata Onozawa of Japan 7-5, 6-0.
Colin van Beem of Netherlands got the measure of Vietnam’s Thien Nguyen Hoang 6-2, 7-5 and Takashi Saito of Japan recorded a 7-5, 6-0 win over Oscar Hernandez Perez of Spain.
Meanwhile Bun Kenny has been drawn to meet Ivo Klec of Slovakia in his singles first round tie today.