China’s Gao Peng, who was on the mend the whole of last week after twisting an ankle, recovered well yesterday to knock out eighth-seeded Filip Veger of Croatia 5-7, 6-4, 6-1 and make today’s semi-finals of the US$10,000 ITF Cambodian Futures for the GLF-Tep Khunnah Trophy at the National Training Centre.
Feared in the circuit more for doubles deeds with his twin brother Gao Wan, the unseeded invader unveiled his singles prowess with a stunning fightback after remaining at the mercy of the Croatian for a set and a half.
Stretched to his limits by Japan’s Katsushi Fukuda on Wednesday, Veger seemed to have a favourable wind on his back after taking the tight first set. But once Peng got his teeth into the second, Veger was quickly heading to a point of no return even as his weary legs were giving in and his rival was sweeping the third set.
The Chinese right-hander runs straight into the top seed Axel Michon of France for a place in tomorrow’s final. The French left-hander was unsparingly harsh on Taiwan’s Ting Yu Chuang, 6-2, 6-1.
It was double delight for China when fifth seeded Wang Chuan stitched up third seeded Antoine Escoffier of France 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 in a match that swung back and forth.
In long winding three-setters, it is not about how hard you play pressure points but how well, especially in the decider and Wang stuck to this tested policy better than his French rival.
The tall and light-framed Chinese right-hander takes on equally lofty and hard-serving Robin Kern of Germany. The second seed dictated terms from the start to get past Chieu Fu Wang of Taiwan 6-3, 6-3.
Kep boy gifted racquets
In a rare act of generosity, Frenchman Julien Demois, who made an early exit from the ongoing ITF Cambodian Futures on Wednesday, donated two racquets he has been playing with to 12-year-old Svay Voth from Kep, one of a dozen or so doing duty as a ball boy over the last three weeks.
What enhances the value of the gift is the fact that these Babolat Aero Pro Drive racquets are the exact same brand that Spanish giant Rafael Nadal uses.
Svay Voth, a student of Aryavady School in the southern coastal resort town, added a pleasant dimension to this emotional story by sharing his goodies with a tennis friend who is also his schoolmate.
The French left-hander said he was impressed with Svay Voth’s energetic work on court during some of his matches and training sessions.
“He is always alert, always smiling and I came to realise that this boy was determined to do well as a tennis player and I was happy to do this small bit for him,” Demois, who is returning home today, told the Post.
The Cambodian youngster, now second in the Kep junior rankings, reacted with unabashed delight at the gift. “This is the first time that someone has presented me a racquet. I am so happy to be here close to so many international players,” he said.
“I hope Julien Demois is back next year. I have to show him my tennis improvement.”
Tennis Federation of Cambodia Secretary-General Tep Rithivit, meanwhile, said he was “really proud of the boy’s attitude”.
“It is important for them to never forget where they come from and think about others. I am happy that tennis provides this kind of spirit,” he added.
To contact the reporter on this story: H S Manjunath at [email protected]