Arcilla, Gonzales forge title clashBy Marc Anthony Reyes
Philippine Daily Inquirer
SIX-TIME champion Johnny Arcilla overpowered top seed Fil-German Marc Sieber with a vengeful 6-1, 6-4 win even as second seed Ruben Gonzales disposed of the overachieving Elbert Anasta, 6-4, 7-6 (8-6) yesterday to arrange a men’s singles finals showdown in the Philippine Columbian Association Open tennis championships presented by Cebuana Lhuillier.
In fashioning out the stunning victory, Arcilla did not only get back at his tormentor in the 2010 final but also showed he can stand his ground against the big shots at the famed PCA shell-clay courts where he is regarded as a legend.
“Kagabi naisip ko, ipapakain na naman ako sa (Last night I was thinking, I’d be eaten alive again by the) dragon,” said the 32-year-old Arcilla of his 24-year-old nemesis who ranks among the world’s top 500 in singles.
“But my game worked and he committed a lot of errors.”
Arcilla, also last year’s champion, went ahead 5-2 in the second set against a foe who seemed to have lost the rhythm that allowed him to march into the semifinals without losing a set.
“He (Arcilla) was too clever,” said Sieber. “I did my best but I was into it only late in the game.”
Sieber, whose stint here and those of Fil-Am Davis Cuppers Gonzales and Treat Huey was shouldered by tennis patron Jean Henri Lhuillier, broke Arcilla’s serve for 3-5 before holding serve.
“I tried to break his momentum but he was hitting good shots,” said Sieber of Arcilla, who wowed the gallery with a mix of baseline game and feathery drop shots.
Arcilla, who was coming off a long-drawn 6-2, 2-6, 6-3 quarterfinal win over Patrick John Tierro on Thursday, will take on his Davis Cup teammate Gonzales in tomorrow’s final.
The Fil-Am toiled for almost two hours to subdue Anasta later in the day.
The tournament is also sponsored by Kia, Dunlop, Head, Babolat, Whirpool, PCSO and PVL Restaurants is set tomorrow.
“His serves were too heavy,” said Anasta in Filipino of his Fil-Am opponent.
The 27-year-old Gonzales broke Anasta’s serve in the eighth game of the first set, overhauling a 30-15 deficit with a brilliant return. Anasta protested the call and went on to smash his racket after the umpire ruled against him.
“That was the turning point,” said Anasta, who booted out Treat Huey in the quarterfinals last Thursday, in Filipino.
He escaped match point with a forehand winner that drew applause from the crowd, 6-6, in tiebreak. But the Philippine Army private double faulted next and then fired long to yield the match.
Top seed Fil-German Katharina Lehnert faces Rachelle de Guzman, while Clarice Patrimonio takes on defending champion Marian Jade Capadocia today in the women’s singles semifinals.