STO 8th seed Soon-woo eliminates tough American challenge to reach 2nd Rd
By Shaheed Alam
Day 3 of the Singapore Tennis Open sees Korea’s Soon-woo Kwon and America’s Thai-son Kwiatkowski battle it out on Court One for a place in the last 16.
At the OCBC Arena, the big-serving Kwiatkowski and aggressive base-liner Kwon held convincing service games in the first four games of the match. After an extended service game from the Korean, a backhand unforced error handed the first break of the match to the American to lead 3-2. The 26 year old who won the Singapore Futures Title in 2018, consolidated the break with his big serves. Both players held their serve, and Kwiatkowski, the former National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) champion closed out the opening set with a score of 6-4 after serving four aces in the set.
In their first-ever meeting at the recent 2020 US Open, the Korean prevailed in four sets, after dropping the first set to the American. The 23-year-old Korean saw history repeating itself, when his back was against the wall, and he lost the first set to Kwiatkowski. The 1.88m American started the 2nd set from where he left off with an early break of serve to lead 2-1. For this American, he merely needed to hold his serve to gain a spot in the last 16. However, the World No. 81 Korean showcased a powerful game to convincingly break the American’s serve to love. The set was poised up to the point when Kwon broke the American’s serve at 4-3 to serve out and force a deciding third set. The Korean showcased his grit and mental fortitude on-court and held his nerves to close out the set 6-3.
After 1 hour and 17 minutes on court, the match was up for grabs for both players. The Korean got off to a flying start by capitalising on his first break point opportunity on the American’s serve to get an early advantage on the deciding 3rd set. Unfortunately for the Korean, he could not consolidate on the advantage and handed the break to the American, and it was evened out at 1 game a piece.
In this final set, both players from each side showed us a glimpse of world-class tennis, with the American and his above 215km/hr serves and the Korean with his aggressive counter-punching ground strokes from the baseline. Both players continued holding their own serves, with lengthy service games of their own. Each player saving numerous break-points in their own service games, but it was the 8th seeded Korean who took advantage and converted his break-point at 4-4 to serve out the match at 5-4. Once again, the Kwon held his nerve to convincingly serve out his match to love, to book his spot in the last 16 to face fellow Asian and doubles-partner, Yasutaka Uchiyama. Final score was 4-6, 6-3, 6-4
(Edited by Raj Kumar)
Shaheed Alam is currently, Singapore's Number 1 Men's Tennis player. He became part of the national TeamSG setup at the age of 16 in 2014. And he's the first Singaporean Male ITF Junior Singles title winner. His playing resume includes 6 Davis Cup tournaments and 3 SEA Games campaigns. As the top-ranked Singaporean on the ATP Tour, he's the current holder of 12 National Titles. Shaheed's also a SportSG Ambassador and 20 Feb 2021, marked his debut at a ATP Pro Men's Tour event - the Singapore Tennis Open!
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