Davis Cup: China make tie even stevens on opening day against Japan
Sports Scene

China is playing host to Japan in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, for the 2019 Davis Cup qualifiers at the Guangdong Olympic Sports Center Tennis Center. This is the first time the two countries have met in the international men's team tennis tournament in 10 years.

Japan had dominated their previous meetings to the tune of eight victories, including a 5-0 triumph in their most recent tie in Osaka back in 2009. However, China's Li Zhe sprang an upset on home soil to get China off on the right foot in the first match on Friday.

Li Zhe celebrates defeating Japan's Yoshihito Nishioka during the 2019 Davis Cup Qualifiers at Guangdong Olympic Sports Center Tennis Center in Guangzhou. /VCG Photo

Li Zhe celebrates defeating Japan's Yoshihito Nishioka during the 2019 Davis Cup Qualifiers at Guangdong Olympic Sports Center Tennis Center in Guangzhou. /VCG Photo

Although Li is currently ranked more than 200 spots lower than his Japanese rival Yoshihito Nishioka in the ATP rankings, the Chinese was able to win the first set 6-3.

Cheered by the home crowd, Li kept the momentum going in the second set as well and was even more dominant. Li, 32, broke Nishioka twice and went on to claim the second set 6-2 for a straight sets victory, clinching a crucial 1-0 lead for China.

In the second singles of the opening day, next up for China was world No. 208 Zhang Ze as he took on the 69th ranked Taro Daniel. Zhang started well and took a 5-3 lead in the first set.

Zhang Ze (L) of China shakes hands with Taro Daniel of Japan after the Men's Singles match on day one of the 2019 Davis Cup Qualifiers. /VCG Photo

Zhang Ze (L) of China shakes hands with Taro Daniel of Japan after the Men's Singles match on day one of the 2019 Davis Cup Qualifiers. /VCG Photo

But Daniel broke back to win the first set in a tiebreak and took the second 6-4 to make the tie 1-1 on the opening day.

All eyes will be on the crucial doubles match today as the unfancied hosts are determined to turn the table against their higher-ranked opponents.

In other results, Germany took a 2-0 lead over Hungary as did Australia over Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Czech Republic and the Netherlands are tied 1-1, the same as Austria and Chile along with Slovakia and Canada.