LAPU-LAPU CITY—Ruben Gonzales lived up to his status as the top Filipino bet by outclassing Thailand’s No. 1, Danai Udomchoke, 6-4, 6-3, 6-2, last night to give the Cebuana Lhuillier-Philippines an unbeatable 3-1 lead in the Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Group 2 semifinal tie at Plantation Bay Spa and Resort here.
The 27-year-old Gonzales, who took over from the now-retired and fellow Fil-Am Cecil Mamiit, was in complete control against Danai, ranked 207th in the world and former Asian Games champion who was visibly fatigued at the end of the two-hour encounter before a big Sunday crowd.
“I played a great game today, I really tried my best,” said Gonzales, who struck the first blow for the hosts last Friday by prevailing over Wishaya Trong-charoenchaikul, who quit due to cramps while trailing, 6-7 (8-6), 6-4, 2-0.
Francis Casey Alcantara was playing Wishaya in the non-bearing last reverse singles at presstime.
Alcantara teamed up with Fil-Am Treat Huey in the doubles to give the Filipinos a 2-1 lead with a 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 (4) win over Nuttanon Kadchapanan and Pruchya Isarow.
The Philippines now advanced to the Group 2 finals against New Zealand, which dumped Pakistan, 4-1. The tie is set on home soil again, possibly at the same Plantation Bay resort.
After Gonzales won the opening singles Friday, Danai fought back to even the score later in the evening with a 6-3, 6-2, 1-6, 6-2 triumph over Johnny Arcilla in the event sponsored by Cebuana Lhuillier, Yonex, Philippine Sports Commission and Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Armed with a big serve, Gonzalez broke Danai in the 10th game of the first set as the Thai sprayed returns long and wide at the steamy clay court that had to be watered in between sets.
The 31-year-old Danai, his service game lacking the vaunted power he was known for, yielded serve again in the eighth game of the second set.
By this time, Gonzales—who hit seven aces in all—could not be stopped, hitting several delicate drop shots that wore down Danai considerably.
Gonzales held serve at love in the fourth and sixth games of the third set and even had the luxury of wasting four match points before putting Danai away when the Thai hit a backhand long.