2018 AO Asia-Pacific WC Play-off: Soon Woo Kwon tops Li to win the title


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2018 AO Asia-Pacific WC Play-off: Soon Woo Kwon tops Li to win the title

Hengqin International Tennis Center in Zhuhai served as the host of the Australian Open Asia-Pacific Wildcard Play-off, and it was the top seed Soon Woo Kwon from South Korea who went all the way to win the title and earn the place in the main draw of the upcoming first Grand Slam of the season in Melbourne.

20-year-old Kwon will make his Grand Slam debut and he will be among the youngest players in the draw together with Zverev, Rublev, Shapovalov, Tsitsipas, and Tiafoe. In the final, Kwon took down the 4th seed Zhe Li by 6-1 6-1, winning the last 5 sets with an identical scoreline and punching the Melbourne ticket in style. Korean broke in the very first game of the match and he never looked back, dominating from the baseline with his well-constructed and he outplayed the Chinese in every segment to emerge as a deserved winner in just over an hour.

Zhe lost his serve right at the start but he had 2 break points in game 2 to erase his deficit, only to be denied by 2 aces from Kwon, who closed the game with a forehand winner to cement his break. Another forehand winner gave him a double break lead in game 5 and he hit 3 winners to race into a 5-1 lead, leaving his opponent with no answer so far.

Li saved the first 2 set points in game 7 but the set was over when his forehand landed long, with Kwon conquering the opener by 6-1 in just 30 minutes. Chinese had 2 break points at the start of the second set that could give him at least some boost and momentum, but Kwon stayed focus to dismiss both and close the game with a nice drop shot.

This shook Li's confidence even more and he got broken in game 2 after another unforced error. He managed to hold in game 4 and reduce his deficit to 3-1 but that was all we saw from him, with Kwon scoring another break in game 6 with a lucky net cord.

Soon Woo sealed the deal with a service winner in game 7 to complete an amazing week and secure his spot on the biggest tennis stage for the first time in his career. Last year, Denis Istomin won this event and he stunned Novak Djokovic in Melbourne, and it will be interesting to see how well Kwon will perform, especially if he draws some player from outside the Top 50.

Final result:

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