Saturday, May 25, 2013

Cuong storms back to reach semifinal

                                                                                                                                  Hoan Nguyen

Many were already counting him out, but Cuong showed his mettle and more...

After a 6-1 set loss at the hands of Minh Tran last Sunday, not many at the Vietbay Open, except dreamers and charlatans, would have predicted a comeback from the Vietgoogle Champion. He was struggling in every aspect, with lethargy, and with the pace coming from Minh.

He had plenty of time to contemplate that first set loss.

Today Cuong came back rejuvenated and inspired. He probably had a master plan too, but most evident was his hunger to win channeling through his play.

After a decent start that saw him breaking in the first game, Minh struggled to find his range and was broken back immediately. In contrast, Cuong started to serve better and played more freely. Charging to the net at every possible occasion and mixing up his plays with slices and drop shots, Cuong kept Minh off balance and second-guessing himself. He quickly established a 3-1 lead.

Minh was not ready to throw in the towel and tried to switch the momentum. Taking the ball early and attacking Cuong’s backhand, he successfully earned a break back for 2-3 as he pumped his fist and yelled “come on”.

Cuong, however, was resilient and continued to dictate play; his amazing touch at the net and his out-of-no-where drop shots rattled his opponent. At one point, Minh could only shake his head as the ball smoothly drifted across the net, landed as light as a feather. On top of that, Minh‘s only hope of his serves coming to the rescue was fading fast. As he tried to swing harder, he dug himself deeper into the hole with some double faults.

Nothing could stop Cuong at this point as he surged to a 6-2 win in the second set and then commandingly demanded the deciding tie-break from Minh to move into the semifinal. The sweet comeback put a big smile on his face

With the popular power-play of this generation, it’s refreshing to see a player like Cuong and the display of his forte. It can be extremely convincing and beautiful.

So here’s your fantastic four: in the semifinals, Binh will meet Cuong while Phuong will meet Viet. The line-up of stars ensures a dream finale— a Vietbay-Vietstan battle that the sports has always been trying to sell. The players prefer not to see it that way— they see it rather as a battle of styles, in which either power or consistency reigns supreme. However, there's no doubt one might need a combination of both to bring home the title.

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