Team PHL stays alive-A A +A
Monday, September 16, 2013
RUBEN Gonzales staved off what could have been the biggest heartbreak and dug himself out of the hole and beat New Zealand’s Rubin Statham, 7-6 (2), 4-6, 1-6, 7-5, 8-6, in the first reverse singles of the Davis Cup Asia Oceania Group 1 promotional tie last night at the Plantation Bay Resort.
The win evened the Davis Cup tie at 2-2, sending it to a deciding reverse singles. Treat Huey replaced Johnny Arcilla and was set to play Michael Venus late last night and the winner will determine which team advances to Group 1 next year.
A lot was on Gonzales’ shoulders going into the match as it was a do-or-die match and it followed his heartbreaking five-set and four-hour match loss to Venus in the first singles last Friday.
But last night, he slaved for four hours before defeating New Zealand’s top player in a match that went the distance.
“I could not have done it without the support of everyone here,” said Gonzales.
Gonzales had won the first set via tiebreak, but Statham went on to take the next two sets and was one set short from closing this tie in favor of the Kiwis.
But then the fourth set happened. Gonzales was leading 3-2, before another rain caused another two-hour delay.
Both players took turns holding their serves until Gonzales scored a convincing break in the final game of the fourth set to force a deciding fifth.
In the final set, both players were at two games each, when Statham broke Gonzales in
the fifth game to gain the upperhand. He then held his serve in the next game to build up a 4-2 lead.
But this did not dampen Gonzales’s spirit. Banking heavily on his serves, to get
within 4-3, and then fighting of four deuces before Statham finally held his serve for a 5-3 le3ad.
All hopes could have been dashed had it been another player. But not Gonzales.
Team skipper Roland Krait was screaming from the sidelines, “This is it, Ruben, give it everything. Everything.”
And he did. He held serve at 40-0 to make it 5-4, then broke Statham for 5-5, then got to 6-5 with a winner that got the crowd wild.
But Statham also pushed himself and tied it at 6-6 but Gonzales refused to extend it further as he consolidated a break and a hold to seal the thrilling five-set win.
However, the celebration for Gonzales’s win was overshadowed by an altercation that happened after the match.
A personnel from Philta said that during the match, a member of the New Zealand team complained to the Philippine team that one of its officials was cheering every point, which was not allowed.
Although cooler heads prevailed the New Zealand skipper Alistair Hunt confronted Philta’s Randy Villanueva after the singles rubber, which led to a more heated confrontation.
Onlookers say that Hunt reportedly challenged Villanueva to a fistfight and said there was heavy shoving.
Villanueva was screaming that what Hunt did was unprecedented, before he was taken out of the playing area by some members of the Philippine team.
The deciding singles between the Philippines Treat Huey and Venus was still ongoing at press time last night.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 16, 2013.