3 Feb 2018

China down NZ in Davis Cup tie

7:40 pm on 3 February 2018

The New Zealand tennis team have lost their Davis Cup tie against China in Tianjin after dropping their doubles and first reverse singles matches.

Artem Sitak and Marcus Daniell

Artem Sitak and Marcus Daniell Photo: PHOTOSPORT

New Zealand got off to a good start in the tie after number one Rubin Statham - playing in a record 30th tie - won his opening rubber 2-6, 6-4, 6-4.

But the home team levelled the tie at one all after Michael Venus went down to China's top seed Zhang Ze 5-7, 6-1, 6-2.

The Chinese combination of Zhang Ze and Mao Xin Gong then stunned New Zealand's Marcus Daniell and Artem Sitak 6-4, 6-4 to take the pivotal doubles rubber and a 2-1 lead in the tie.

Daniell, ranked 34 and Sitak, 56 were expected to be far too strong for the relatively inexperienced Chinese pair, but from the outset the New Zealanders were on the back foot. Put under pressure in just about every service game in the opening set, they faced 7 break points and were broken in the 7th game.

Daniell and Sitak were guilty of serving a staggering 10 double faults between them and had a first serve percentage of just 56% compared to 74% for their opponents.

Statham lost his reverse singles rubber going down 6-1, 3-6, 4-6 to the rising star of Chinese tenniss Wu Yeibing. The result gave the home team the tie 3-1.

New Zealand now face a relegation tie away to South Korea later this year.

The Koreans were trailing Pakistan 2-0 after the opening day in Islamabad.

China advance to a World Group qualification game against India.