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Philippines, Greece brace for clinical Davis Cup World Group II tie playoff

Philippines (blue) and Greece (white) Davis Cup players pose at the official draw ceremony and press conference on Mar. 5 ahead of their Davis Cup World Group II Playoff tie at the Philippine Columbian Association, in Plaza Dilao, Paco, Manila.
By Kristoffer Ed Bellen

MANILA—The stars have formally aligned and for the first time in almost three decades the Philippines are once again set to host a non-Asian team at the Davis Cup – World Cup of Tennis when they meet Greece at their World Group II Playoff tie at the Philippine Columbian Association this weekend.

The Philippines, which last faced a European side in 1991 when it lost to Sweden, will field all members of the 2019 Southeast Asian Games-winning team except Treat Huey, who will be replaced by Davis Cup newcomer Jed Olivarez to join country’s number one Jeson Patrombon, AJ Lim,  Francis Casey Alcantara and Ruben Gonzales, along with long-time national skipper Chris Cuarto.

World number 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas, on the other hand, will banner a hopeful Greek squad along with his brother Petros, Markos Kalovelonis, Michail Pervolarakis, and non-playing captain Dimitris Chatzinikolaou.

“Not a lot of foreign countries are familiar with this kind of courts, and at the same time yung init and humidity inside. So, we’ll try to put it in our advantage. I think you know naman na playing with Greece is medyo mabigat. They have Stefanos, medyo mahirap na kalaban.

“But our players are prepared naman dito sa PCA because they are already used to the humidity and of course the temperature inside. So, I think we’re ready for the tie. We’re expecting a lot to watch and mas magpapainit pa yun sa loob ng court,” said Cuarto at the tie’s official draw ceremony and press conference on Thursday.

Lim will open things up for the Philippines in the first singles rubber on Friday as he and Stefanos Tsitsipas, whom he defeated in an Orange Bowl doubles match back in their junior years, relives their unfinished business for the first singles rubber before 2018 PCA Open champion Patrombon tries to steal a winnable rubber against Petros Tsitsipas to close out the opening day.

On Saturday, 2017 SEA Games tennis doubles silver medalists Alcantara and Gonzales will battle against Pervolarakis and Kalovelonis in the crucial doubles match before the last two reverse singles.

“We’ll have same objectives [on the way we approach our game]. Obviously, we’re not playing on home soil. We’re not very familiar with the environment so we’ll just have to take it match by match and concentrate on each single game individually,” Stefanos Tsitsipas, who finished as a runner-up against current world number one Novak Djokovic in Dubai last weekend, uttered.

“Yeah, it is different but it’s still a clay court…it is a clay court. Clay court is one of the surfaces that I like playing at. I grew up playing in clay. Most of my good results have come from clay,” he also added.

Matches between Philippines and Greece will start at 11:00 am on both days while interested spectators can buy tickets at PCA for PHP500.00 to PHP800.00.

Follow him on Twitter: @KristoffBellen