Stunner In Seoul! South Korea Overhauls Belgium For Famous Davis Cup Victory
On a sensational Sunday in Seoul, South Korea dismantled Belgium’s 2-0 lead in the 2023 Davis Cup Qualifiers by winning the doubles and both singles. It is the first time the nation has overturned such a deficit in the history of the prestigious team event.
The hero of the day was World No. 237 Seong-chan Hong, who kept his cool to defeat Zizou Bergs 6-3, 7-6(4) in the deciding fifth rubber. Even when nerves were a factor for Hong, who is 122 places below the Belgian in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, he held firm to complete a famous victory for his country.
"I tried to show my strengths as much as I could and tried to frustrate my opponent," said Hong after the match. "As soon as I started, I thought it was working well today. The atmosphere was good before the game. Of course, I was very nervous, but I was also very excited. After the match point, I thought I showed it."
The decider was needed after Belgian No.1 David Goffin failed in his bid to wrap up the tie, with Soonwoo Kwon coming from behind to take the match 3-6, 6-1, 6-3, serving up 11 aces in the process.
“It was not an easy game, but I think I could win thanks to the fans who came to see the game today,” Kwon said. “In the first set, there were a lot of errors because I had too many thoughts,” he added. “But from the second set, I tried to find composure and played well as I thought about the practice game with Goffin.”
The day’s drama started from the first ball as Ji Sung Nam and Ming-Kyu Song threw everything at their doubles opponents in a bid to get Korea on to the scorecard.
Belgium’s Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen, who have played together in the competition since 2018, were put under pressure from the beginning by a duo ranked some 100 places below them. The match was dominated by serve, with the Koreans prevailing 7-6(3), 7-6(5).
South Korean captain Seung Kyu Park was full of praise for his players.
"I am so grateful and proud of the players for not giving up and doing their best until the end," he said. "It's so good that I don't know how to express it. The players made history as a team with the coaching staff. It's like a dream to advance to the finals for two consecutive years and I don't know if this is real."
This story features contributions from DavisCup.com
Lehecka Delivers For Czech Republic
Jiri Lehecka stepped up and delivered once again for the Czech Republic Sunday in Maia, where he moved past Portugal’s Joao Sousa 6-4, 6-1 to fire his nation into the group stage of the Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals.
The 21-year-old defeated Nuno Borges on Day 1 of the Czech Republic’s Davis Cup tie against Portugal and backed up that victory with a dominant display against Sousa, striking 23 winners to triumph after one hour and 25 minutes.
Heading into Sunday’s action holding a 2-0 lead in northern Portugal, Czech Republic was on the cusp of the group stages. However, Borges and Francisco Cabral gave the home nation a foothold in the tie when they defeated Tomas Machac and Adam Pavlasek 7-5, 7-6(4) to halve the deficit.
However, the 2022 Next Gen ATP Finals runner-up Lehecka quickly shut down those hopes. He quietened the crowd with his aggressive play, outmanoeuvring Sousa to send the Czech Republic to the Davis Cup Finals for the second time.
Following his victory, the World No. 39 was mobbed by his teammates on court, before he embraced Sousa at the net. Lehecka now holds a 10-3 record on the year, having reached the quarter-finals at the Australian Open last month.