Phl Cuppers take 2-0 lead over Syria

LAPU-LAPU CITY, Philippines – Johnny Arcilla and Ruben Gonzales took care of business as the Philippines seized a commanding 2-0 upperhand against Syria in the Davis Cup Asia-Oceania Zone Group II first-round tie last night at the Plantation Bay Resort and Spa here.

Arcilla overcame a second-set meltdown to eke out a 6-4, 5-7, 6-1, 6-2 triumph over Syria’s top netter Issam Taweel then Gonzales outlasted Marc Abdelnour, 6-4, 7-6 (1), 6-2, to give the hosts an imposing headstart.

The Cebuana Lhuillier-Phl Davis Cup team will gun for the clincher tonight in the doubles match, with Treat Huey and Elbert Anasta initially nominated against Syrian nominees Abdelnour and Madji Salim.

“It’s a good start for us, it puts us in a good position going into the doubles,” said non-playing captain Roland Kraut, who has the option to make lineup changes one hour before the 6 p.m. doubles match tonight.

Arcilla got off to a blazing start, not letting the 20-minute rain delay hinder his charge in taking the first set and seizing a 4-1 lead in the second set. But the pride of Butuan momentarily let his guard down, allowing the Syrian to snatch the second and draw level.

“I relaxed (when I got up, 4-1), thinking I already had it in the bag. One mistake and he broke serve and went all the way to win the second set,” the 33-year-old netter admitted in Filipino.

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It served as a wakeup call for Arcilla, who made some adjustments in pace and unloaded a variety of shots from there, to seize control and force the world 925th Taweel to a series of botched shots.

“Coach (Roland Kraut) told me to slow it down because he (Taweel) wanted to make quick kills. I tried to extend the rallies and also mix my shots,” said Arcilla.

Arcilla has now won his fifth consecutive match in the Davis Cup.

The Phl-Syria Davis Cup tie is supported by Smart Sports, Cebuana Lhuillier, Yonnex, Jober, Philippine Sports Commission, Jober Electronics, and Plantation Bay Resort and Spa.


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