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Arcilla to open RP’s campaign

By KRISTEL SATUMBAGA

LAPU LAPU CITY, Philippines – Johnny Arcilla hopes his experience at the claycourt surface will boot his chances against his Syrian opponent in the Asia Oceania Zone Group II Davis Cup tie starting today at the Plantation Bay Resort and Spa here.

Nominated as Cebuana Lhuillier-Philippines’ No. 2 player, Arcilla will take on Syria’s No. 1 Issam Haitham Taweel in the crucial first singles match following yesterday’s draw attended by Lapu Lapu City Mayor Paz Radaza.

PH No. 1 Ruben Gonzales clashes with Syria’s No. 2 netter Marc Abdelnour in the second singles.

Arcilla was not at all intimidated as he vowed to set the tone for the Filipinos in the best-of-five, three-day affair. Although he rarely competes internationally, Arcilla has been playing in the Davis Cup since 2000 with a 1613 win-loss singles record.

Arcilla is also not pressured playing in the first singles, having won six of nine matches since joining the squad. His last victory came last year, when he prevailed in straight sets against Pakistan’s Aqeel Khan in Group II.

“Advantage na sa akin kasi paborito kong court surface. Sana madala ko yon dito sa match ko,” said Arcilla, who has won seven titles in the local tournament PCA Open played at the same court surface.

Taweel is also no stranger in the Davis Cup, having played 28 ties. Ranked No. 925 in the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), the 23-year-old is coming off a five-game winning streak in Group III.

It will be the first time that the two teams will be facing in the Davis Cup, and their unfamiliarity with each other’s plays poses a slight disadvantage for both squads.

Despite this, the Syrians still consider themselves underdogs in this matchup, having been promoted from Group III this year compared to the Filipinos, who have been in Group II since last year.

“Obviously, the Filipinos have more experience than us. We’ve been in Group II twice but we never stayed long so we’ll do our best in order to make a step forward in this group,” said Abdelnour, who is based in France.

Abdelnour, 24, boasts of a No. 963 singles ranking and is actively competing in ATP tournaments. The Fil-American Gonzales, for his part, is ranked No. 823.

Source: http://www.tempo.com.ph/2013/02/arcilla-to-open-rps-campaign/#.URH3IlehwZQ

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