Tennis: Indonesia 1, Philippines 0 in Davis Cup
Indonesia’s Christopher Rungkat
defeated the Philippines’ Francis Casey Alcantara at the men’s
singles Davis Cup Asia-Oceania Zone group II final tie between the
two countries at the Gelora Bung Karno tennis stadium in Jakarta on
Christopher won the match in four sets, 7-6, 6-2, 3-6, 6-0.
Indonesia is relying heavily on Christopher in its bid to return
to the region’s top Davis Cup group. The winner of the tie will be promoted to Group I of the Asia/Oceania zone.
On Saturday, Christopher will pair up with Elbert Sie against Ruben Gonzales
and Jeson Patrombon.
Elbert will take on Treat Huey in the second contest today.
captain Bonit Wiryawan said on Thursday that Christopher and Elbert
were the nation’s best players in both singles and doubles, making
them the right choice for the Asia/Oceania zone Group II tie.
“They’re the best and they’re in their best condition. Two
other players — Sunu Wahyu Trijati and Aditya Hari Sasongko — are
also good players. But we’ll try to make the most of our chances.
If we get good results on the first day, Sunu and Aditya may play,”
Christopher, 22, is the only Indonesian who
regularly competes on the International Tennis Federation tours.
Elbert, 25, took a long break after the 2011 Southeast Asian Games
and only resumed playing in July. Neither Sunu nor Aditya play
competitive matches regularly.
“It’ll be tough to play three days in a row. But I’m ready
for the challenge,” Christopher said on Thursday.
On the ITF singles table, Christopher ranks No. 292 and Elbert is No. 862. None of the Philippines’ single players has secured a ranking in the ITF, but Huey is No. 39 in doubles world ranking.
In the Davis Cup head-to-head record, Indonesia leads 5-4. The Merah Putih won 4-1 in the latest encounter, in Manila in February 2000.
But the visitors don’t seem concerned about the numbers. Huey even said they were happy with the drawing as they were expecting it.
“Despite the previous record, we’re happy with the drawing result,” said Huey, an American-born player. “It’s what we want — Francis is playing first game. We’ve been preparing for this.”
Philippines captain Roland Kraut said he was confident that his players were up to the task. “Ranking doesn’t matter, even if we play better ranking players in Indonesia, we’re ready. It’s about mentality,” Kraut said.
Indonesia reached the Group II final after its 3-2 defeat of Thailand in Jakarta in April, while the Philippines trounced Pakistan 5-0.
Indonesia was relegated from Group I seven years ago after losing 4-1 to Thailand in a relegation playoff. The country has twice reached the World Group, in 1983 and 1989, but failed to make it past the first round.
Meanwhile in the World Group, Spain is likely to come within one successful tie of a sixth Davis Cup title this century after the semifinals against the United States in Gijon.
A US team led by John Isner will have to overcome considerable history to prevent Spain from traveling to Argentina or the Czech Republic in November to defend the cup in the final.
The United States has won in Spain only once, 40 years ago, while Spain’s comfortable wins this year over Kazakhstan and Austria extended its 12-year unbeaten streak at home to 23 ties, all on clay.
Argentina’s hopes of beating the Czechs in Buenos Aires rest on the enduring fitness of Juan Martin del Potro, who came out of his US Open quarterfinal loss with a wrist injury.
He practiced on Wednesday and was confirmed on the team, much to its relief.
Already without standard-bearer David Nalbandian, who was sidelined by a strained chest muscle, Argentina wouldn’t have the firepower without del Potro to stave off Czech stalwarts Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek.
Argentina, yet to win the Davis Cup, lost the 2008 and 2011 finals, and the Czechs, who haven’t won the cup in 32 years, lost the 2009 final.
Additional reporting from AP & AFP