ATP Tour

Ecuador take lead over Japan in Davis Cup qualifier

Kei Nishikori (AFP)
Kei Nishikori (AFP)

Ecuador took an early 2-0 lead against Japan with nail-biting victories in their Davis Cup qualifier on Friday in western Japan, held behind closed doors due the coronavirus outbreak.

Emilio Gomez beat Go Soeda 7-5, 7-6 (7/3), before Robert Quiroz outplayed Yasutaka Uchiyama 7-6 (7/4), 2-6, 7-6 (10/8).

Left-handed Quiroz, world 276, pulled the upset with big serves that kept 90th-ranked Uchiyama on defensive.

He nailed 16 aces and won points on 78 percent of his first serves.

Uchiyama came back in the second set by breaking Quiroz twice and mixed his sizzling forehand shots with delicate volleys to force his opponent to make mistakes.

But Quiroz stayed in the match, with both men keeping all of their service games in the first and third set, with the Ecuadoran overcoming Uchiyama in tie-breaks after the two sets.

Gomez, ranked 151, also stayed in control of his match against 117-ranked veteran Soeda.

The visitor kept hitting deep forehand shots to send Soeda running along the baseline.

Soeda attempted to rush towards the net to regain his rhythm, but it was not enough to ease the pressure from Gomez.

Japan were without two star players, including injury-hit Kei Nishikori, who was seen cheering for his team-mates in the stadium.

World No 48 Yoshihito Nishioka decided not to join the national team to avoid the possibility of being quarantined due to the coronavirus outbreak on his return to the United States ahead of next week's ATP Tour Masters event in Indian Wells.

The Davis Cup matches were held without spectators in Miki city in western Japan as a growing number of sporting events across the world are affected by the outbreak.

Ball boys wore gloves to handle the balls and used baskets for players to toss their towels in so they would not have to touch them.

Results from the first day of the Davis Cup qualifier between Japan and Ecuador in Tokyo on Friday:

Japan 0 Ecuador 2

Emilio Gomez (ECU) bt Go Soeda (JPN) 7-5, 7-6 (7/3) 

Robert Quiroz (ECU) bt Yasutaka Uchiyama (JPN) 7-6 (7/4), 2-6, 7-6 (10/8)

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