4 p.m.—Gonzales vs Venus
Arcilla vs Statham
LAPU-LAPU CITY—Top local bet Ruben Gonzales leads the way for the Cebuana Lhuillier-Philippine team when he tangles with New Zealand No. 2 Michael Venus in the opening singles of the Davis Cup Asia Oceania Group 2 finals at Plantation Bay Spa and Resort here.
Clay specialist Johnny Arcilla, listed as PH No. 2, drew the tougher assignment against Kiwi top player Jose Statham in the second singles after the drawing of lots yesterday at Alcatraz ballroom presided by International Tennis Federation referee Puneet Gupta.
US Open men’s doubles quarterfinalist Treat Huey and 2009 Australian Open junior doubles champ Francis Casey Alcantara will play in tomorrow’s doubles against Venus and Marcus Daniel. Reverse doubles is on Sunday.
Gonzales, 27, said he’s not concerned about playing first and expressed confidence against a player he has already beaten twice.
“Now I have gained some experience and I feel confident,” said Gonzales who has won all three of his singles matches in the last two Davis Cup ties against Syria and Thailand.
New Zealand non-playing captain Alistair Hunt revealed that they are bringing out their best team to the extent of replacing veteran Daniel Turner-King with Statham, who is the Kiwi’s best player with a ranking of 295.
“You guys have been playing a lot of doubles, while we play a lot of singles lately, and as you know in Davis Cup it’s match for match,” said Hunt.
“It’s a fantastic venue, the court is as fast as grass,” joked Hunt.
The event is sponsored by Philippine Sports Commission, Smart, Cebuana Lhuillier, Plantation Bay, Lapu Lapu City, Yonex balls, Jober Electronics and Inquirer.