|Stefanos Tsitsipas hits a backhand winner during his Davis Cup World Group II Playoff match against AJ Lim at the Philippine Columbian Association on Friday, March 6. Jojo Lirio/Smile-Eight Photography|
By Kristoffer Ed Bellen
MANILA—Brothers Stefanos and Petros Tsitsipas smashed two separate singles victories at the Davis Cup World Group II Playoff to give Greece a commanding 2-0 lead over the Philippines at the Philippine Columbian Association center court on Friday.
World number six Stefanos set the tone early on for the visiting team after cruising past Philippines’ number two tennis player AJ Lim, 6-2, 6-1, before his brother, Petros, dominated Jeson Patrombon with the same scoreline to close out the first day of their two-day competition.
Greece, which is now one victory away from qualifying into the 2020 Davis Cup World Group II tournament in September, will try to close things out on Saturday when they play for the doubles rubber and reverse singles rubbers.
Stefanos drew first blood for the Greeks when he played a nearly flawless match against Lim in the first singles rubber by converting five of his seven break points while also firing a total of eight service aces to close out the match in just 54 minutes.
“I think things worked out pretty well. I think my game was enough to get the win today. It was quite difficult adjusting to the court, the bounce was kind of rough all over the place but I still found ways to get the ball back.
“I think he played really well. He brought me into rally situations where I really had to work for the point…to win the point. So, it wasn’t easy. I just had to play it point by point, step by step, and get this victory,” Stefanos said.
Lim, who has actually already beaten Stefanos in the juniors tour before although in a doubles match, was, for the most part of the match, erratic and did not seem to find his game as he was overwhelmed by the 21-year-old superstar.
“I was [nervous] in the first few games. I was super tight; I didn’t know what to do and what to expect. I haven’t played a top six player. It’s different, it’s really different to play against him,” he admitted.
He, however, managed to briefly take his first and only lead against the five-time ATP Tour titleholder when he played a very good service game to start the second set, only to falter in the next six games which eventually saw Stefanos securing the victory.
“I just didn’t want to lose 6-0, 6-0, so obviously I was happy at that point. Actually, when I got that point, I was trying to aim for more but he’s just a really solid player and it’s just tough to play against him. “
Meanwhile, in the second singles rubber, Petros somehow managed to take Patrombon off his game as he capitalized on the Iligan City-native’s failure to close out games during their multiple deuces.
“From start to finish, I had a good mindset, I think. I started tough and really good; it was important for the rest of the match. I personally think that I did really good, I didn’t make a lot of mistakes and I didn’t I gave him a lot of opportunities to attack and play his game because he has a very good attacking game.
“From his side, I think that he played his best, which made me to go for even more. It was the match the way I wanted,” Petros said.
The Philippine Davis Cup team will look to extend the tie on Saturday when 2017 SEA Games silver medalists Francis Casey Alcantara and Ruben Gonzales face Petros Tsitsipas and Markos Kalovelonis before the two reverse singles rubbers.
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