Davis Cup: Thailand sweeps Pakistan, is promoted to Group I

On a Saturday of Davis Cup semifinal action when Roger Federer supported his Swiss teammates against Italy, and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Richard Gasquet (France) eliminated Tomas Berdych, Radek Stepanek and the Czech Republic in doubles at the site of the French Open, two countries were aiming for more modest goals.  A couple of levels below the main competition, Pakistan and Thailand had fought through to the Asia/Oceania Group II finals.  The potential reward: a promotion to Group I play in 2015.

Thailand carried a 2-0 lead into Saturday’s doubles match thanks to singles victories by Danai Udomchoke (the winningest player in Thai Davis Cup history) and 18-year-old Pruchya Isarow.  At the Lawn Tennis Association of Thailand – the matches were actually contested on hardcourts – the doubles played out in temperatures swirling around 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the suburbs of Bangkok.  (The venue choice and court surface were safe choices given the political fallout of Pakistan’s 2013 Group II loss to New Zealand in Myanmar, thoroughly analyzed by the website Grantland.)  Despite the recreational atmosphere and free seating, there was significant caliber on the court.  The most celebrated player on the Pakistan squad, Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi, was ranked as high as No. 8 in doubles, but on the ATP Tour he usually partners with players from other countries such as Rohan Bopanna of India, with whom he reached the 2010 U.S. Open final.  As a result, the weaknesses in his pairing with Aqeel Khan showed on the court in a 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 loss to twin brothers Sanchai and Sonchat Ratiwatana, two-time ATP Tour doubles winners.

“Today, I think, is a good day for our Thai Davis Cup team to get back to Asia/Oceania Group I again,” captain Paradorn Srichaphan, the first-ever Asian-born man to break into the ATP Top 10, told Meniscus Magazine after the match.  “To play against Pakistan today [and] Aisam Qureshi…we had a tough opponent this round.  But I think our players did well today.”

Photos: Thailand vs. Pakistan, Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Group II finals, Bangkok, Sept. 13, 2014
all photos by Yuan-Kwan Chan / Meniscus Magazine