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Philippines takes 2-0 lead over Sri Lanka in Davis Cup

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Wanting more of the same

The Philippine team raced to a 2-0 advantage against Sri Lanka after Day 1 of the Davis Cup Asia-Oceania Group II tie last Friday, at the Valle Verde Country Club, in Pasig City

Tierro climbs back to win opening match

PLAYER12345Sets
P. Tierro (PHI)536663
H. Godamanna (SRI)764032

 

RP top singles player Patrick John Tierro started the campaign for the Nationals against a familiar foe in Harshana Godamanna. Godamanna continued his mastery over Tierro, whom he defeated in 5 sets last year, as the Sri Lankan took the first two sets. Tierro served well, connecting with several aces and service winners, while Godamanna had problems on his service as he had three double faults in just the first three games of the first set. The Colombo native, however, forced the otherwise solid Filipino ace player into several errors, especially on the former’s service game. Sri Lanka went to a 5-2 start and threatened to grab the set, but the Tierro had other things in mind. The former De La Salle University stalwart stepped on the gas pedal and won his service games easily to frustrate Godamanna by forcing him to errors on his own serve, which leveled the set at 5 games-all. The visitor took the momentum as errors from Tierro in the final game gave Sri Lanka the first set, 7-5.

During the second set, both players held on to their own service games, turning into a see-saw affair . Tierro continued his brilliant form on serve as he won them mostly on aces and on service winners. In the pivotal fourth game of the second frame, the Filipino had two break points but failed to close the game. This consequently becomes the story of the set. With a slim 3-2 lead with the set on serve, Godamanna broke Tierro to double the lead. The Sri Lankan added to the lead scoring on brilliant winners. The Pinoy top-seed would hold on to his serve, but that will his last hurrah as Godamanna took the second set and move a set away from taking the first match for his team, 6-3.

Third set followed a similar pattern to the previous one as the protagonists exchanged control of the match on their service games. With the match tied in this set, Tierro slowly gained confidence when he survived the ninth game by forcing miscues from Godamanna, to take the lead at 5-4. The South Carolina-born veteran closed out the set to take one back for the Philippines.

Sensing the momentum, Tierro pulled out all the stops to prolong the match and stir it in the Nationals’ favor. He blanked Godamanna in the fourth set, 6-0. Tierro scored 32 points while limiting the guest to just 12 points, which came mostly from the Filipino’s errors.

With the match in his control, the Filipino netter moved to an early 3-0 lead in the decider. Godamanna answered by holding on to his service games, but that did not stop Tierro from taking the 5-3 lead going in to the Pinoy’s last serve. After five match points, Tierro sealed the deal and completed the impressive comeback, 6-3.

When asked about the match, Tierro shared that he was indeed having problems with his game because the ball had an awkward bounce, and so he decided to change the tension of his racket prior to the third set. “Kasi nung first two sets it was going out. I don’t know if it’s about the ball or racket but he [Godmanna] was also playing well din kasi.”

Even when down two sets to none, Tierro never lost hope. “Godmanna was lucky pero kasama sa game yun. Sabi nga ni coach, just wait for your opportunity. Be patient and you’ll get your moment.”

When asked if revenge was on his mind, Tierro told us that it was definitely in his thoughts: “Losing five sets to him last year was heartbreaking.” Finally, Tierro felt great playing in front of an excellent crowd and in Valle Verde Country Club: “It’s a great facility and the crowd was amazing. The feeling of winning in front of people cheering for you is a surreal experience.”

3-2-1! Gonzales dominates to put RP closer to next round

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R. Gonzales (PHI)666  3
S. Dissanayake (SRI)321  0

 

Five-year veteran Ruben Gonzales took the court next, against Sri Lanka’s no. 1 Sharmal Dissanayake wherein he flexed his muscles right of the bat. He fired service aces consecutively to take the first game, 1-0. Dissanayake retaliated to level the match at 1-apiece. But that would be just one of his breakthroughs in the game as the Filipino used his powerful forehand. A forehand winner clinched the first set for Gonzales, 6-3.

In the following set, problems piled up for Dissanayake when he lost his first service game on the account of three errors and a double fault. On the other hand, Gonzales continued to win games on service winners and aces. The Filipino ace also had numerous forehand winners which the visitor could not answer. Looking for some lifeline, the Sri Lankan controlled the seventh game to cut the deficit to 3, 5-2. However, Gonzales finished the set with a wonderful sequence of serve-and-volley plays, 6-2, and pushed the Philippines closer to a commanding two-match lead in this tie.

The third set was no different, with Gonzales who controlled the match while just enjoying the atmosphere. The Indiana-based netter attempted three drop shots in the second to fourth games that failed to connect. One of those errors gave Dissayanake a breakpoint in the second game, which the visitor converted to a game to tie the set at 1-apiece. Gonzales went on to sweep the next five games to seal the deal for the Nationals and move one win away from returning to Group II semifinals, 6-1.

The long-time Davis Cup participant recently won the ATP Challenger 100 tournament in Morelos, Mexico before flying to the country for this tie. He added this added confidence on his game. “I definitely felt good coming in, but I have been training very hard last couple [of] months so that made me feel more confident.” He did not, however, expect to dominate Dissayanake knowing that the Sri Lankan was a tough opponent. “I just went in and tried to execute my gameplan.” In closing, Gonzales shared that he loves playing for the country for these past few years, “Playing for my country is the biggest honor that I’ve ever had in my life. I’m truly blessed to have these opportunities and I will always give my all my heart and soul and body in representing my country.”

The Nationals will attempt to close out the tie on Saturday, March 7, as ATP Tour two-time champion Treat Huey partners with young gun Francis Casey Alcantara in the lone doubles match.

Grew to appreciate various sports from tennis to judo. True-maroon kiddo since the new millennium. Fanboy. Singer. Occasional sports writer.

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