The Philippine Davis Cup Team (from left to right: Chris Cuarto, Francis Casey Alcantara, AJ Lim, Jeson Patrombon, John Bryan Otico, and Jurence Mendoza).
By Kristoffer Ed Bellen
MANILA—It was a tale of two matches for the Philippine Davis Cup team as they opened their 2018 campaign with a decent 1-1 draw against Indonesia at the first day of the Asia/Oceania Zone Group II first tie at the Gelora Bung Karno Tennis Stadium Complex, in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Saturday
Second year cupper AJ Lim delivered the opening blitz for the Philippines as he proved to be a mismatch against first timer M. Althaf Dhaifullah in the first singles rubber while long-time player Jeson Patrombon fell short against David Agung Susanto in a battle of Davis Cup veterans in the second match of the two-day scheduled affair.
Lim, 18, made quick work on the younger Dhaifullah after welcoming the 17-year old Indonesian with an outright dominance en route to a 6-3, 6-2 victory to record his second singles win in his second tie nomination.
The University of the East hotshot and reigning UAAP Most Valuable Player fired 60 total points highlighted by four break point conversions in six tries while also adding four service aces despite committing six double faults to improve his overall Cup win-loss record at 2-3.
Lim dominated the service department after recording 32 combined first and second service points especially in that notable second set where he went raging from the baseline on an 82 percent first service winners and 70 percent second service winners.
Patrombon, on the other hand, failed to carry Lim’s momentum in the second rubber match after suffering a 2-6, 5-7 defeat at the expense of Asusanto in their two-hour head-to-head.
The 2011 boys’ singles Australian Open quarterfinalist seemed to be far from his usual composure as he failed to fare with Asusanto’s excellent performance who won 87 total points compared to his own 74 winners.
With the loss, Patrombon yielded his first ever Davis Cup tie loss since being nominated to play for the Philippines seven years ago, but the 23-year old netter will look to bounce back against Dhaifullah in the closing match tomorrow to end the first tie.
Lim tries to redeem Patrombon’s glory tomorrow with a fourth rubber match against Asusanto while Philippines’ top player Francis Casey Alcantara will team up with Jurence Mendoza for the first time ever on Sunday at 11:00 a.m. (Philippine Time) to kick off the country’s second day campaign.
“I don’t know with him but I know I’m sure he is a bit nervous,” Alcantara told Dugout Philippines via an online interview, referring to Mendoza who will represent the Philippines for his first year.
“[We will] just focus and play our best. Tomorrow is a different day,” he added ensuring his readiness to back up the No.51 ranked Philippines.
Should the Chris Cuarto-mentored Philippine Davis Cup team win, they will have a shot to face the winner between the tie of top seeded Thailand and Sri Lanka which likewise finished their first day with a 1-1 record.
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