Gonzales puts PH ahead

Seizes opening single as power-serving Thai retires

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LAPU-LAPU CITY—Ruben Gonzales struggled against the power-serving Wishaya Trongcha-roenchaikul but got a lucky break when the Thai teenager quit due to cramps, handing the Cebuana Lhuillier-Philippine team a 1-0 lead in the Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Group 2 semifinal tie last night.

Wishaya complained of cramps on both legs in the second game of the third set and asked for medical timeout. But he winced in pain while clutching his abdomen after taking his seat, forcing nonplaying captain Tanakorn Srichapan to give up the opening singles by retirement at Plantation Bay Resort and Spa.

The final score for Gonzales was 6-7 (8-6), 6-4, 2-0 (ret).

The 17-year-old, 6-foot-3 Thai went out firing from all angles in the first set, pushing the 27-year-old PH top man on the defensive in the match played in the scorching late-afternoon heat.

Johnny Arcilla was playing Thai top player Danai Udomchoke in the second single at presstime.

“I was really sorry for him, it’s a tough decision for them to make,” said Gonzales of Wishaya, who was given medical attention for 20 minutes inside the court.

“But I was ready to go the distance,” added Gonzales, who engaged the Thai in an all-out battle instead of slowing the pace according to the team’s game plan on the soft and slow surface.

The Thai broke for a 2-1 lead but Gonzales returned the favor in the eighth game for 4-4. After losing his serve in the 11th game, Gonzales broke again  to force the tiebreak.

“I had several chances in the first set which I failed to capitalize on,” said Gonzales. “He was serving very well and playing very good.”

Wishaya stormed to a 3-0 lead in the tiebreak, but Gonzales fought back to reach set point at 6-4. The Thai responded by winning the next four points.

Gonzales tied the match by using the lone break in the third game of the second set to hack out a 6-4 win, then opened the third set by again breaking the Thai, who was now refusing to chase easy shots.
At 0-30 in the second game, the Thai walked to a corner shaking his legs.

Tanakorn, who was part of the Thai Davis Cup team that lingered in Group 1 for nine years, approached Wishaya and then told him to go on. Gonzales finished the game with Wishaya standing immobile, forcing the Thailand bench to call for medical timeout.

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