Rubin Statham offered a reminder of the glory days of Davis Cup in Auckland today.

His comeback from two sets down to beat Korean Seong Chan Hong was an impressive effort, as Statham fought off a match point in the third set and faced a 5-2 deficit in the fourth.

Statham eventually prevailed 3-6 5-7 7-6(6) 7-6(6) 2-0 in almost four hours, with Hong retiring hurt in the fifth set, punished by the physical toll of the match.

Michael Venus couldn't match his compatriot's effort - he was beaten in straight sets by the impressive Korean No 1 Soo Woo Kwon - to leave the tie level at 1-1 ahead of tomorrow's doubles.


But today was about Statham. His dogged approach brought back memories of the likes of Onny Parun and Russell Simpson battling for their country at Stanley Street.

Statham has been a great servant of his country - over 13 years and a record 27 ties - and today added another proud chapter.

"There's nothing better than that," said Statham. "Coming out here in your home city, that's up there with one of the most special matches I have played ...coming back from two sets to love down and going the distance. It took a lot of persistence, a lot of heart to fight through that mentally and physically."

Statham had lost to the same player in February last year, with snow surrounding the courts in Seoul. He was out for revenge, but didn't start well. The Kiwi dropped the first set after a string of errors, and gave up a 4-1 lead in the second, dropping six of seven games after a rain delay.

"There were a lot of frustrations there," said Statham. "I came out a bit flat after the rain delay and I was disappointed but the show goes on, you have to keep fighting. I broke him down and physically he couldn't match me today."

World No 409 Statham is renowned for his stamina, and that, along with his mental toughness was the difference. Hong was one point away from the match in the third set tiebreak, and then looked unassailable a 5-2 lead in the fourth set.

But Statham - as he tends to do - stayed in every point and Hong was started to cramp badly during the fourth set tiebreak.

In the second match Venus struggled against world No 253 Kwon, the 19-year-old seen as one of the rising stars on the ATP tour, and the New Zealander couldn't find his range on serve in the first two sets.

But Artem Sitak and Marcus Daniell have the opportunity to give New Zealand the initiative tomorrow, and continue this country's unbeaten run since 2013 in Davis Cup doubles. ​