Taiwan's top tennis player Rendy Lu Yen-Hsun, who reached a career-high 58 in the world rankings on Monday following a breakthrough performance at the Australian Open, will miss this weekend's Davis Cup tie against Kazakhstan because of an inflamed knee.
The announcement came as Taiwan's team for the Feb. 6-8 tie at Sinjhuang Gymnasium in Taipei County was introduced Tuesday.
Rendy suffered discomfort to his right knee during his stunning five-set upset of 10th seed David Nalbandian in the second round of the Australian Open, and further aggravated it last week during a Challenger series event in Heilbronn, Germany.
Doctors there suggested that Rendy remain in Germany to treat the knee rather than play in Taiwan’s 2009 Davis Cup opener to prevent the inflammation from growing worse and jeopardizing his participation in upcoming ATP Tour events.
Rendy will be missed against Kazakhstan, whose top three players -- Andrey Golubev, Mikhail Kukushkin and Yuri Schukin, all ranked in the world's top 200 -- played for Russia before changing their nationalities last year.
The Feb. 6-8 tie was made necessary because the Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Zone Group 1 has nine teams entered this year. Taiwan and Kazakhstan were drawn to compete for the final spot in the official eight team draw, which begins competition in earnest March 6-8.
If Taiwan beats Kazakhstan this weekend, it will host India in March. A win over India and either Australia or Thailand in May would send Taiwan to the elusive World Group playoffs for the first time ever, a prospect Rendy would surely relish.
The oft-injured 25-year-old risked playing in Germany to try and cover ranking points he was about to lose, but the gamble did not pay off when the knee acted up during a second round 6-2, 6-0 loss to Karol Beck of Slovakia, said Thomas Lu Wei-Ru, Lu's older brother who helps manage his younger brother's affairs.
Not treating the injury now could have financial consequences. Rendy has already signed up to play at four ATP tournaments in the U.S. beginning Feb. 9, but will be fined by tennis’ organizing body, the ATP if he misses more than one of them due to injury, Rendy Wei-ru told the Central News Agency.
In Rendy's absence, Taiwan will likely depend on Wang Yeu-tzuoo and Chen Ti in the four singles matches played on Friday and Sunday. A pivotal doubles is played Saturday.
Wang, ranked as high as 85th in the world in 2006, is hoping to restart his career this weekend after being sidelined for most of 2008 with an assortment of ailments, the most serious a persistent wrist injury.
He has played in only five ATP Tour event qualifying tournaments since last year’s Australian Open, winning just one set in the five appearances.
Wang told the Central News Agency he spent most of 2008 conditioning his body and had only begun hitting balls in earnest at the end of November.
Asked if he was worried about his lack of match competition or that the wrist injury might still hamper him during the Davis Cup best-of-five set matches, Wang deadpanned, “I am worried about so many things that I've decided not to worry about any them.”
Wang, whose natural talent was in evidence when he reached the finals of the US Open boys singles at the age of 16 in 2001, felt he had recovered his basic skills and was physically fit.
“But confidence can only come from tournaments. There's no way you can get confidence from just practicing, It's not possible," said Wang, whose confidence and match toughness are likely to be challenged against Kazakhstan.Chen Ti, who has remade his game, from his grip to his serve, in the last six weeks, will be testing how much he's absorbed.
Although the world No. 375 Chen is ranked below Kazakhstan's top three players, he said he was more confident than when he played Australia's Lleyton Hewitt in a Davis Cup tie last February.
"Last year when I played Hewitt, I was just hoping to play well."
"This year, I'm playing to win."
(Via taiwannews.com.tw; Image via sport.1-apple.com.tw)