Full-body cramps hit Cambodia’s top player Bun Kenny in the decisive final set and forced him to retire from the second singles rubber as Cambodia crashed to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Turkmenistan, in a Pool B tie on the second day of action in the Davis Cup Asia Oceania Group III competition at the Kompleks Tun Razak Tennis Center in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
In the opening singles match, Phalkun Mam overcame Georgiy Pochay 7-6, 6-3 in a contest spread over an hour and 49 minutes to give Cambodia a 1-0 lead. Phalkun won nearly 50 per cent of his service points and converted four of the eight break points that came his way.
The stage appeared to be well set for Cambodia to wrap up the tie when Kenny (pictured, Sreng Meng Srun) took to the court against Isa Mammetgulyyev and strolled through the first set 6-1.
But the 24-year-old right-hander began to noticeably weaken in the second set and allowed his rival to level the set scores at 6-3.
After bravely fighting back from 0-2 down to 2-2, Kenny managed to keep the fight going in the decider until the situation turned from bad to worse and he could barely hit the ball. At 6-5 he had no option but to retire, giving his opponent a 1-6, 6-3, 6-5 win that brought Turkmenistan level at 1-1.
In the decisive doubles, Phalkun Mam and Doeum Samsocheaphearun were squarely beaten by Alexandr Ernepesov and Georgiy Pochay 6-3, 6-1.
“It was terribly disappointing the way the tie ended for us. We meet another strong team in Vietnam [today] but it all comes down to our last match in the playoffs on Saturday.
“We hope to do our best and stay in this group for next year,” national coach Braen Aneiros said.
“There is no hiding the fact that we are going through a rebuilding process, and today’s result has shown that having one very good player like Kenny is not enough. We need a better second line and also need to work out a good doubles combination.”
Non-playing captain Tep Rithivit added: “We still have a chance to remain in this group and we will make the best of it.”
Meanwhile, Vietnam topped Pool B with a 2-1 win over Syria. In Pool A, hosts Malaysia outplayed Hong Kong 2-1, while Qatar took an unbeatable 2-0 lead over Saudi Arabia. After the last of the pool matches are played today, both the promotion and relegation play-offs will be be fought out tomorrow.