Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Davis Cup sore point

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ADVANTAGE, COLOMBIA!

Both Barbados and their visiting South American opponents believe that the new Davis Cup format does not work in the hosts’ favour because of their heavy reliance on Darian King and Haydn Lewis.

The two teams made the assessment ahead of tomorrow’s start to the opening-round Group I tie at the National Tennis Centre, where Lewis and King are each likely to play three matches in two days.

“I think it’s going to be good for us because we have a specialist doubles team and I think for the players’ fitness [having a specialist doubles team] is so important and especially for Darian.

“I don’t know if he’s going to play doubles, so we’ll see at the draw,” said Colombia’s non-playing captain Pablo Gonzalez.

“It’s going to be tough,” King acknowledged, “because for the last couple of weeks I haven’t been 100 per cent physically. I got really sick in Australia and now I’m trying to get back to work.”

“We play again right after the doubles, so obviously it comes down to fitness, but I’m playing at home and I really enjoy playing here in front of all my friends and family and I’m definitely that person who’s happy  to get out there and showcase my skills.”

It’s probably the biggest challenge team Barbados have ever had to face considering that King and Lewis are slated to play both doubles and the ensuing reverse singles on Saturday instead of over the customary two days.

And Colombia won’t have such an issue, as likely singles players Alejandro Gonzalez and Daniel Galan will be well rested while the dynamic duo of Juan-Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah are playing doubles.

In addition, Farah and Cabal are coming in with the world of confidence after reaching the final of the Australian Open.

“We’re really happy to get to the final of the Australian Open, as it was a good two weeks in Australia and it gives us confidence heading into this tie,” said Cabal.

“[But] they are a really good team, so we’re working on our stuff and preparing to play our match, and in Davis Cup ranking doesn’t matter because you’re playing for your team, so it’s going to be a tough match.”

Yet the hosts collectively said they feel no pressure since Colombia enter as the clear favourites, with a team featuring a top 70 player in Gonzalez alongside two world-rated doubles specialists.

Barbados are toying with several options, which could include resting Lewis for the opening singles or not playing either veteran in the doubles if Barbados take a 2-0 lead tomorrow.

“All options are on the table and we will talk to Darian and Haydn at the end of the first day and then make those determinations,” said Barbados’ non-playing captain Damien Applewhaite.

King added: “The mission is always to win three matches in the tie, so we’ll continue assessing our players and make the determination ahead of each day.

“But it’s definitely a tough team. They have a high calibre of players as their doubles players just came from making the Australian Open final and in singles they have a guy that’s been in the top 100 before, so we’ll see how it goes.”

The draw for the match schedule is slated for this morning, while play begins tomorrow at 10 a.m. with the first of two opening singles matches. (JM)

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