Francis Casey Alcantara
By Kristoffer Ed Bellen
MANILA—The Philippine Davis Cup team banked on an outright dominance in all of the three second day matches of the first tie of the 2018 Asia/Oceania Zone Group II Davis Cup to defeat the home team Indonesia, 4-1, and book a ticket to the second round, at the Gelora Bung Karno Tennis Staidum Complex, in Jakarta, Indonesia on Sunday.
Birthday boy Francis Casey Alcantara and rookie cupper Jurence Mendoza started strong for the Philippines after surviving a first set scare from Justin Barki and David Agung Susanto before tallying a much stronger second set performance to prevail after one hour and 42 minutes, 7(7)-6(5), 6-3, and lead the Philippines for a 2-1 advantage at noontime.
The duo combined to win 83 total points while also leveling their Indonesian counterpart’s service ace production at two apiece and converting four of their six breakpoints in the must-win doubles match.
“[We] felt really good playing in front of the opposing team,” Alcantara said, who celebrated his 26th birthday with an improved card at the Davis Cup featuring an unblemished 6-0 win-loss record at the doubles event.
“[It was] as always. Like last year when I played during the Davis Cup week as well against Indonesia,” he also remarked when asked about how special that game was for him considering his birthday.
However, it was the 18-year old AJ Lim who delivered the finishing goods for the Philippines as he weathered his last year defeat against Susanto to stormed back this year for a 6-3, 6-4 sweep in about one hour and 25 minutes of the first reverse singles match to secure the Philippines’ second straight second round date with Thailand.
It can be recalled that the Philippines and Thailand also clashed for a spot last April at The National Tennis Development Center, at Nothanburi, Thailand, for a spot at the Group II finals, where the latter shut down the former, 5-0.
The top seeded Thais, who edged Sri Lanka in their own tie, 3-2, will visit the Philippines on April 7-8 for a second round rematch and an opportunity to even their head-to-head encounter as the Filipinos lead them 4-3.
Meanwhile, 2017 PCA Open winner John Bryan Otico fared well in his first ever Davis Cup nomination after a two-setter upset against veteran tennis player Anthony Susanto, 6-3. 6-3, in the no-bearing fifth rubber match.
The Philippine team will head back to Manila on Monday to start their preparations for the next tie on summer.
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