Ti Chen downs Jeson Patrombon as Chinese-Taipei defeats Philippines in Asia/Oceania Group 2 semis
Jeson Patrombon fails to sustain a strong start against Ti Chen. Freddie Dionisio

TI CHEN fought back from a set down to beat Jeson Patrombon and hand Chinese Taipei a 3-1 victory over the Philippines in the Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Group 2 semifinal on Sunday at Philippine Columbian Association.

Chen recovered from being down one set and 0-4 in the second, methodically cutting down Patrombon’s resolve to score a 3-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-0, 6-1 win.

The victory moved Chinese Taipei to the promotional tie for Group 1 against either Vietnam or Thailand, while the Philippines will be playing in Group 2 for the sixth straight time.

The dead rubber was dropped.

It was a big blow for the Philippines, which got off to a bumpy start when Chinese Taipei swept the opening singles last Friday.

Chen led the Taiwanese with a 6-2, 2-6, 6-2, 6-2 victory over Ruben Gonzales in the first match on Friday, before Francis Casey Alcantara retired due to cramps in the match against Huang Liang-chi, with the score at 6-1, 3-6, 6-7 (4), 6-1, 1-0.

The Philippines kept its hopes alive when Treat Huey and Gonzales repelled Hung Jui-chen and Wang Chieh-fu (6-7 (9-7), 6-2, 6-3, 6-4) in Saturday’s doubles.

“We are not outclassed. We were there every match. But in a nutshell, ‘Sayang,”’ said non-playing captain Karl Santamaria.

The 32-year-old Chen, ranked No. 226th in the world in singles, got shocked by Patrombon’s inspired game in the opening set, forcing him to commit mistakes and even double faulted to lose the first set.

The 24-year-old Patrombon, a quarterfinalist in the 2010 Australian Open juniors, rode the momentum to take a 4-0 lead in the second set. By that time, Chen bought time by complaining of the loudly cheering crowd.

ITF referee David Smith then warned the crowd they would deduct a point against Patrombon of the crowd cheers while ball was in play. Shortly after Chen broke serve for 4-1.

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But Patrombon broke back for 5-1, before a newly charged Chen won the next five games to change the complexion of the match. Patrombon struggled to break and force a tiebreak.

Patrombon was leading, 4-3, in the tiebreak but the pressure caught up on him as Chen found a second wind that was unstoppable from then on.

Philippine Davis Cup team manager Jean Henri Lhuillier praised the effort of the squad in the tie sponsored by Cebuana Lhuillier, Philippine Sports Commission, Yonex and Toby’s

“We had our chances in this match. I’m still very proud of our boys as they went toe-to-toe with their higher ranked opponents. We’ll bounce back next year,” said Lhuillier.

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