Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - China’s Gao topples top seed, Panhara falls out

China’s Gao topples top seed, Panhara falls out

China’s Gao topples top seed, Panhara falls out

Unheralded Chinese national Gao Wan reached his fiery best in toppling top-seeded Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan of India 6-3, 6-2 in the first round of the ITF NagaWorld Futures Championship at the National Training Centre yesterday.

Better known on the pro circuit for his doubles exploits with his twin brother Gao Peng, the Chinese right-hander not only dug tunnels with his serves but chaffed the lines quite often, firing winners from all around the court.

The 330th-ranked Indian was completely put off his stride by Gao, whose ranking of 984th was mocking proof that what counted in the end was the day’s form and not rankings and reputations.

The top seed graciously admitted after the loss that his Chinese rival was far too aggressive and consistent on the day and that he himself had been slow to respond.

“By the time I could come up with a game plan to counter his aggression, he was already far ahead. He was aggressive and he played very well,” Jeevan told the Post.

There was no sign of the impending trouble for Jee-van when he won a break of serve early in the first set, but once Gao got into the groove, he began hitting fluently on both flanks.

With excellent coverage backing his sure-fire ground strokes, he was the dominant player on the court.

“I felt very good about my game today. I thought my opponent began quite slow, and I could take control quickly. Yes, I have had some big successes in the four years of my pro life, but this ranks among the best in singles,” Gao said after his victory, which took him little more than an hour to complete.

Mam Panhara punches out
The last vestiges of Cambodian interest in singles disappeared yesterday morning after Mam Panhara went down gamely to sixth-seeded Maximilian Neuchrist of Austria in two pulsating sets, 6-4, 7-5.

“Panhara’s performance was by far the best among the three Cambodian players. He played his heart out. He lacked a bit of match sharpness, as he hadn’t played competitive tennis since that Davis Cup run in Doha,” Tennis Federation of Cambodia secretary-general Tep Rithivit said.

The first set was a tight affair, with 26-year-old Panhara having a couple of chances to draw level at 4-4 but ultimately missing out, giving Neuchrist the opportunity to close out the set. The two traded breaks early in the second before Panhara took firm control of the set, jumping to a 5-2 lead. He then served for the set at 5-3, only to lose his serve and a bit of his nerve too.

The tall Austrian served out the 10th game and reeled off two more on the trot for a five-game winning streak to end Panhara’s fightback.

The most popular winner of the day was Japanese veteran Katsushi Fukuda. At 36, he is the oldest player in the main draw and he justified his wild card from the TFC by scalping seventh-seeded Sarvar Ikramov of Uzbekhistan 6-3, 6-3.

Lustily cheered on by a small Japanese crowd, the indomitable Fukuda, who has been on the pro circuit for nearly 15 years, was never in trouble, controlling the pace of the rallies and directing them to his advantage.

“I am so thankful to the TFC for giving me this wild card, and I am deeply indebted to the Asian Development Fund and its president, Mitsuji Konoshita, for sponsoring me all these years,” Fukuda told the Post.

Fukuda’s best performance in the Futures series was way back in 2002, when he made the final of an event in China.

Meanwhile, fifth-seeded Antoine Escoffier of France breezed through his first round with a 6-4, 6-0 win over Yan Sabanin of Russia.

There was another seeded casualty on the day in Alexander Ward of Great Britain. The fourth seed went down tamely to Indonesia’s Elbert Sie 6-4, 6-0.

Eighth-seeded Sebastien Boltz of France lost the first set on a tie-breaker but levelled the set scores by taking the second at 6-3, after which his Chinese rival Wang Chuhan retired from the contest.

Artem Sitak of New Zealand was also handed victory after winning the first set 7-5 and going 1-0 up in the second as his rival, Filip Veger of Croatia, cried halt.

MOST VIEWED

  • Proof giants walked among us humans?

    For years a debate has waged about whether certain bas relief carvings at the 12th-century To Prohm Temple, one of the most popular attractions at the Angkor Wat Temple Complex in Siem Reap province, depicted dinosaurs or some rather less exotic and more contemporary animal,

  • Long way to go before Cambodia gets a ‘smart city’

    Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battambang will struggle to attain smart city status without adopting far reaching master plans, according to officials tasked with implementing the program. The brainchild of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), the smart city program seeks to link up

  • New US bill ‘is a violation of Cambodian independence’

    After a US congressmen introduced bipartisan legislation that will enact sanctions on Cambodian officials responsible for “undermining democracy” in the Kingdom, government officials and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party on Sunday said they regarded the potential action as the “violation of independence and sovereignty

  • Japan bank buys major stake in ANZ Royal Bank

    Japan's largest bank acquired more than half of ANZ’s shares in Cambodia on Thursday, according to a statement from Kith Meng’s Royal Group. Japan's JTrust Bank, announced that they had acquired a 55% of stake in ANZ Royal Bank. According to a Royal Group