Cuppers To Close Out Syria

LAPU LAPU CITY – The Philippines is not looking beyond Syria after taking a commanding 2-0 lead Friday in their Asia Oceania Zone Group II match at the Plantation Bay Resort and Spa here.

“It’s still better to be 2-0 than 1-1 or down 0-2, so I think our chances are pretty good. But we still have a long way to go so I don’t consider this as being over,” said Fil-American Ruben Gonzales who beat Marc Abdelnour, 6-4, 7-6 (1), 6-2.

Johnny Arcilla had earlier given the Filipinos a winning start after rolling past Issam Haitham Taweel, 6-4, 5-7, 6-1, 6-2.

On Saturday night, Fil-Am doubles specialist Treat Huey and Elbert Anasta were set to face Abdelnour and Majdi Salim. Both squads, however, can still change their lineups an hour prior to the match.

A victory for the Filipinos in the doubles would reduce Sunday’s reverse singles into best-of-three exhibition matches.

The winner of the tie will advance into the second round against either Kuwait or Thailand on April 5 to 7.

“We have to play a good match in the doubles and hopefully, we can close them up. But we’re not taking any chances,” said Gonzales who scored his first singles win since joining the team three years ago. He mostly played doubles in the past, winning two in four outings.

“I’ve always wanted to play singles in the Davis Cup and I’m always thankful for the opportunity,” said Gonzales, ranked No. 823 in the world. “I feel a bit better every match and feel that as I do get older and as I do get to play more tournaments, I get to be more confident. It has helped me.”

Gonzales, who added long-distance running to his training regimen, showed confidence inside the court as he dictated the tempo of the match.

“It was a tough match, still. Marc played really well especially the first two sets, and it was really physical: we were going around the court. He made a good comeback in the second and I was lucky to get to the tiebreaker, and then I started hitting better in the third,” said Gonzales, who did not drop his serve in the third frame while breaking Abdelnour twice.


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