Top Czechs out of Davis Cup tie
Published on Sep 12, 2003
[TENNIS] Thailand's chances of qualifying for the 2004 Davis Cup World Group for the first time improved when the Czech Republic's second and third players withdrew.
The Czech Republic's No 2 player Radek Stepanek pulled out due to an injury he picked up at the US Open two weeks ago.
Ranked No 41 in the world, Stepanek retired due to back pain in the third round of the US Open in his match against sixth seed Lleyton Hewitt of Australia.
The Czech's Republic's third choice, Martin Damm, also withdrew to spend time with his wife, who just gave a birth.
The withdrawal of Stephanek means world No 12 Jiri Novak will be the only main threat for the Thai team. The Czech squad will have to depend on No 3 Thomas Berych, ranked No 109, Bohdan Ulihrach and doubles specialist David Rikl.
In contrast the local side features a strong team comprising world No 11 Paradorn Srichaphan and No 190 Danai Udomchoke, plus Narathorn Srichaphan and Attapol Rithiwattanapong for the doubles.
The three-day showpiece event will take place from September 19-21 at the Impact Arena, Muang Thong Thani.
"Our chances look great. We hope we can win two points from Paradorn and one from Danai. That will be enough to enter the next round," said Sathien Montkongtham, vice-president of the Lawn Association of Thailand.
"As the hosts, we're lucky that our players will have a large amount of support from the locals fans. With the absence of Stepanek, we're more likely to win," added Sathien.
According to the schedule, the Czech squad will arrive in Bangkok on Sunday and the draw will take place on Thursday morning at the Dusit Thani Hotel .
"No matter how the draw comes out, on the Sunday reverse singles at 2pm we'll see Thailand's No 1 Paradorn taking on Czech No 1 Novak for sure. It's going to be the highlight of the tie. The No 1 of each country will be battling for their pride," said Sathien.
Meanwhile, 70,000 kilograms of high quality tennis equipment was officially handed over to the organisers of the US$550,000 (Bt22.9 million) Thailand Open, the first ATP-sanctioned event ever held in Thailand.
The tournament at the end of this month has cost organisers $120,000 in import fees to bring in the equipment, including the court.
"So far everything is good. The only problem we have is the rough ground. We have to level it before starting to put everything in place," said Peter Rooney, production manager of BEC-Tero International Division.
"By this Saturday the court will be done and will be ready for the players to practice with on Sunday," he added.