Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Chile aiming for return to top


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Chile’s road to the World starts right here in Bim.
Don’t expect the visitors to be overlooking Barbados this weekend as the new generation of Chilean tennis has its eyes set on returning to Davis Cup’s World Group by starting with a much-needed Group II victory over the hosts.
Chile’s non-playing captain Nicolas Massau stressed the point in yesterday’s pre-draw press conference ahead of tomorrow’s start to the pivotal opening round Americas Zone Group II rubber.
“It’s very important to us,” said Massau of the team’s return to prominence “We have a new generation in the team with some very young players [but] we are here to try to get back to the World Group in a few years.
“It’s not going to be easy to get back to the World Group but we’re thinking this year we can get to Group I. So we want these players to get some more experience but right now we’re trying to do our best and win here,” he added.
The highly-expected three-day rubber serves as the start of a massive rebuilding project for the fallen South American powers who once played in Davis Cup’s highest group as recent as 2004.
Chile even barely missed out on winning it all, and proved a consistent threat during the days of former world no.1 Marcello Rios and Fernando Gonzalez before the country fell on hard times following their retirements.
But the South Americans have looked to bounce back with a group of young, talented players led by 20-year-old and world no. 289 Gonzalo Lama along with Christian Garin and Novak Djokovic lookalike Hans Podlipnik-Castillo, who are all ranked inside the top 400.
They know that Barbados won’t be any walkovers, though, not with players of the calibre of overseas-based pros Darian King and Haydn Lewis playing on home soil where the team has been near impossible to beat of late.  The high winds won’t be favourable for the visitors either after Puerto Rico and Paraguay struggled to cope with such conditions in recent visits.
“The first days were tough but the past few days we’ve been more comfortable,” said Lama of playing at the National Tennis Centre. “We have been here since last week, so we’ve been preparing good and now we’re more used to the conditions so it shouldn’t be a factor in the game.”


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