The New Zealand Davis Cup team have staged a remarkable 3-2 victory over South Korea in the Asia/Oceania Group 1 tie in Auckland, after being down two sets to one in the vital fifth match.

Going into the final day, the home side were ahead 2-1 on matches with the reverse singles to be played.

First on court was Kiwi No 1 Rubin Statham against Korea's top player Soon Woo Kwon, a rising star of Asian tennis. However, Statham found the speed and pace of Kwon, ranked about 250 in the world, too much in a match that had the visitor raising his game.

Statham had played a lengthy first-up singles on Friday and was eventually beaten 6-3, 6-2, 6-4.

Advertisement

All the pressure then went on to New Zealand's top doubles competitor Michael Venus, who was set to play the fifth singles match against Seong Chan Hong, the Korean No 2.

Venus started well, blasting serves and forehand winners to take the first set 6-3, but the perseverance of Hong showed through in the second set, with the visitor winning 6-3 and then the third set 6-4.

In the fourth set, the Kiwi re-emerged with energy, after an early break of serve, and dominated his opponent, taking the set 6-2 with renewed vigour in his game.

The final set had Venus, who has played minimal singles matches in the past 12 months, again unleashing plenty of aces in front of an enthusiastic crowd. Venus took the set 6-3, but admitted he was helped by advice and by the support.



"I think it finally kicked in what Al [captain Alistair Hunt]and Simon [Rea] have been telling me. Some things take a while to sink in with me, so I'm glad it did in time.

"It's unbelievable - it's why you train and play, to get support like this. They lifted me and helped energise me to win.

"It's been a great week. Rubin took it to that guy on Friday and that probably helped me in the end."

Hunt echoed his players comments about how the support was vital for the win and felt that the whole team, including doubles players Artem Sitak and Marcus Daniell, put the effort in for the victory.

"All weekend, it's been huge support for the team to each other and from everyone. Korea are a really sharp team.

"Obviously it made it a bit easier for us - they didn't send a couple of guys - but the guys they sent were pretty good.

"It showed today, once Mike settled down and got into a rhythm, and made better decisions, he hung on well," said Hunt "I'm pretty proud of the boys."

New Zealand have cemented their place in Asia/Oceania Group 1, while Korea will have to fight against Chinese Taipei to remain in the group.

Venus is now on a flight to the ATP tournament in Houston, where he will play team-mate Sitak in the first round of doubles, with their respective partners, while Daniell will compete in Marrakech in Morocco.

Rubin Statham will play tournaments in Australia and Asia.