February 23rd, 2024

South Korea stays alive with doubles win over Canada in Davis Cup qualifier

By Daniel Rainbird, The Canadian Press on February 3, 2024.

MONTREAL – Canada won’t advance at the Davis Cup just yet.

Jisung Nam and Minkyu Song defeated Vasek Pospisil of Vernon, B.C., and Alexis Galarneau of Laval, Que., 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-3 in a must-win doubles match Saturday as South Korea cut Canada’s lead to 2-1 in the best-of-five qualifier.

The South Koreans held all 16 of their service games en route to victory at the 2,082-seat indoor IGA Stadium, which featured a small but vocal visiting supporters’ section.

Canada put just 60 per cent of its first serves in play and committed 41 unforced errors to South Korea’s 31.

The winning country advances to the group stage of the Davis Cup Finals at a to-be-determined location in September. The Finals take place in November at Malaga, Spain.

Second-ranked Canada took a commanding 2-0 lead over No. 18 South Korea on Friday. Pospisil defeated Seongchan Hong 6-4, 6-3 in singles after Montreal’s Gabriel Diallo opened with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Soonwoo Kwon.

Diallo was scheduled to meet Hong in a singles rubber later Saturday afternoon followed by Pospisil facing Kwon. Lineups were subject to change.

South Korea overturned a 2-0 Davis Cup deficit for the first time in its history last year in a qualifying tie against Belgium.

Up 1-0 in the third set, South Korea converted on its third breakpoint opportunity to go up 2-0.

Canada earned its first – and only – breakpoint chance in the ensuing game but the South Koreans fended it off with ease, forcing a deuce before winning the frame.

Song, who gave the Canadians trouble with his serve all afternoon, won the match with an ace.

South Korea broke Galarneau in the first set to up 2-1 and comfortably held serve the rest of the way to take it.

The visiting side won 22-of-28 service points compared to 18-of-27 for Canada, which committed nine forced errors in the frame.

The second set was more evenly matched as Canada hung onto its serve while scoring more points on the return. Neither team gave up a breakpoint opportunity, however, forcing a tiebreak.

Despite losing on the first point to fall down a mini-break, Canada jumped out to a 5-2 lead with Pospisil set to serve. The home team eventually won 7-4 on a backhand winner by Galarneau down the line during Song’s service.

The 24-year-old Galarneau, who found his rhythm as the match went on, raised his arms in the air to amp up the partisan crowd.

South Korea, however, bounced back with a dominant third.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 3, 2024.

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