PH netters see tough duel vs Thais
LAPU-LAPU CITY, Philippines – The Cebuana Lhuiller-Philippine Davis Cup team braces for a tough outing against Southeast Asian rival Thailand when they face off in the semifinal round of the 2013 Davis Cup Asia-Oceania Zone Group II hostilities.
"It will be a very competitive and exciting matchup," said Philippine Tennis Association vice president and Davis Cup coordinator Randy Villanueva of the tie that the country will host on April 5-7. "Thailand is a tennis power in Southeast Asia and we've had many encounters with them over the years."
The Filipinos and the Thais have battled it out five times in the prestigious international team tennis competitions. Phl enjoys a 3-2 edge head-to-head but the country has not beaten the Thais since the team of Manny Tolentino, Rodrigo Rafael, Felix Barrientos and Raymundo Suarez eked out a 4-2 victory over Thailand in the 1985 Eastern Quarterfinal Round in Bangkok.
The Thais have since won the next two meetings in Group II, 4-1 in the first round in 1998 and 4-1 in the final in 1999.
Ph and Thailand set up their sixth Davis Cup duel with victories over the weekend. The Pinoy Cuppers dispatched Syria, 3-2, at the Plantation Bay Resort and Spa here, while Thailand nipped Kuwait, 4-1, over in Kuwait City.
"Thailand is strong especially if Danai Udomchoke, who is ranked in the 100s, and the twins Sonchat and Sanchai Ratiwatana will come over," said non-playing captain Roland Kraut.
Udomchoke currently stands at 159th in the ATP rankings and recorded two victories to lead the team to the victory over Kuwait. The Ratiwatanas did not play in the Kuwait tie.
Expected to lead the charge for Phl is Fil-Am Ruben Gonzales, who won his two assignments in the showdown with Syria, 6-4, 7-6 (1), 6-2 victory over Marc Abdelnour in the second singles and 6-0, 6-3, 2-6, 6-2 over Issam Taweel and Abdelnour in partnership with Treat Huey in the doubles.
"It (tie with Syria) was a good showcase for Ruben. He won his first match in singles in the Davis Cup. This is a pivotal win and against a tough guy (Abdelnour) so it's good for his confidence. Hopefully, he continues to play more singles matches (in the tour) because we need solid single players. We have solid doubles players but we need solid singles players," said Kraut.