Taiwan picks smoky to play Hewitt in cup
By The Age,
TAIWAN has pulled a selection surprise in a desperate attempt to upset Australia in this weekend's Davis Cup play-off in Kaohsiung.
Taiwan captain Yu-Hui Lien has opted for world No. 270 Ti Chen to lead the hosts against Lleyton Hewitt in today's opening singles rubber of the Asia-Oceania group 1 play-off.
Hewitt, the most successful singles player in Australian Davis Cup history, had been expecting to meet Yeu-Tzuoo Wang, who is ranked more than 100 places above Chen, at No. 147 in ATP standings.
The Taiwanese essentially have conceded the opening match in order to save Wang, their No. 2 player, for tomorrow's doubles. Wang has a wrist injury.
Taiwan is praying for team spearhead Yen-Hsun Lu, the world No. 108, to repeat last year's victory over Chris Guccione in today's second singles rubber.
As expected, Australian captain John Fitzgerald named Hewitt and Paul Hanley as his pairing for tomorrow's doubles.
Fitzgerald admitted Taiwan's choice of Chen had caught the Australians by surprise, but added that the selection was a positive for the visitors.
"We know that Jimmy Wang has been a little bit injured — he's had a wrist problem for a few months and he's been a bit sick, too — but our word was that he was really keen to play," Fitzgerald said. "So, because he was more senior than Chen, we thought he would play.
"But not to be, so I can't see why that's a bad thing for us. They've got a less experienced guy having to play singles and he has to come up against Lleyton first, so that's a big day for him."
Hewitt, looking to improve on his 30-8 singles record in Davis Cup ties, said the Australians were feeling optimistic about taking the first step towards promotion back to the 16-nation world group.
Australia last September was relegated from the world group for only the second time when it lost 4-1 to Serbia in Belgrade. Australia must beat Taiwan to advance to a second-round Asia-Oceania play-off against Thailand or Kazakhstan in Townsville in April.