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Ito sends Japan into Davis Cup World Group playoffs

Kyodo

Tatsuma Ito saved Japan’s Davis Cup ambitions on Sunday with a 6-3, 6-3, 6-0 win over South Korea’s Cho Min Hyeok, clinching their Asia/Oceania Group I, second-round fixture and sending Japan into the World Group playoffs.

“I was able to play my best, and go full speed from start to finish,” Ito said. “By the time of the playoffs in September, I want to raise my world ranking and be able to contribute once more to the team.”

Japan, which won the singles on Friday to take a commanding 2-0 lead, saw that lead shrink after a three-set doubles defeat on Saturday. Go Soeda, the highest-ranked player on a Japan squad without ace Kei Nishikori, lost the first match of Sunday’s reverse singles 5-7, 7-6 (7-5), 6-4, 6-3 to Lim Yong Kyu.

“I gave 100 percent, so I have no regrets,” Soeda said. “I was definitely fatigued after playing five sets on the first night, but the fact that I was not physically prepared is my fault.”

With the scores level, Ito, ranked 101st in the world, dispatched Cho to send Japan into the playoffs. Among Japan’s eight potential opponents in the Sept. 13-15 playoffs are powerhouses Spain and Croatia.