Second-SEEDED Matsui Toshihide of Japan had to navigate a rough second set passage and a flaming tie-breaker to keep out South Korean Song Min-Kyu in the first round of the US$10,000 ITF Cambodian Futures for the GLF Tep Khunnah Open at the National Tennis Center yesterday.
Better known for his doubles exploits, Toshihide is one of the several high profile players supported by the main sponsors of this three leg series, GL Finance, and in that capacity carried an extra load of winning expectation on him.
The start for Toshihide, who is in his mid 30s, could not have been any brighter with the first set in his bag without a great deal of struggle. But the Korean showed his more resilient side in the second set to ensure that his Japanese rival would have to work a lot harder than he might have anticipated.
Both players strongly pushed their claims in the decider until the tie-break saw Toshihide use his vast experience to wrench out pressure points and ultimately break the Korean’s resolve.
Top-seeded Huang Liang-Chi, however, took a heavy toll of another GLF-backed player from Japan, Katshushi Fukuda, who showed his customary zeal on the court despite the Taiwan star rolling over him 6-1, 6-2.
Sixth-seeded Christopher Rungkat of Indonesia filleted Abdul Razak Ahmed Deedat, a wildcard entry from Malaysia, 6-2, 7-5, but two players seeded just below Rungkat exited from the first round.
Last week’s losing finalist Dekel Bar of Israel put out seventh-seeded Masato Shiga 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 while Russian qualifier Igor Zubov eliminated eighth-seeded Chung Hong of South Korea 6-3, 6-4.
In a tussle between two Taiwanese players, qualifier Yi Chu-Huan defeated Hung Jui-Chen 7-6, 6-1.