by Bernard Babb
Barbados defeated Puerto Rico 3-1 and secured their status in Group 2 of the Americas Zone in the reverse singles of their Davis Cup tie in Barbados yesterday.
No.1 player Darian King sent home fans into loud celebration as he came from a set-down to defeat Puerto Rican No.1, Alex Llompart, 5-7, 6-3, 6-4, 6-3, in their crucial reverse singles encounter.
Barbados had entered the final day of the tie with a 2-1 lead after King and Haydn Lewis had won the doubles on Saturday, with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-1 victory over Gilberto Alvarez and Alex Llompart.
On Sunday, King, Barbados’ top player with a world-ranking in the 400s, fought for almost three hours in windy conditions to subdue the gritty Puerto Rican and eventually sealed the match-point with a forehand error from Llompart.The Puerto Rican had taken an early advantage, when he broke King and served out the first set, but the Barbadian found a new gear in the second set and seemingly controlled the match thereafter.
King was tested with several rasping ground strokes and drop shots from the Puerto Rican but, with the backing of home fans, he cleared every hurdle and answered every question posed by his opponent.
“It was a tough match but he played very well today. He raised his level and played better than me on the big points,” Llompart later said at a media conference.
For his part, King said he was happy to win the crucial match and keep Barbados in Group 2, at the expense of Puerto Rico who will be relegated to Group 3, along with Haiti.
Once Barbados secured an unassailable 3-1 lead, the second reverse singles match of the tie, which was expected to bring together Haydn Lewis and Christian Garay, was then of academic interest and not played.
In opening singles on Friday, scores were locked 1-1 as King defeated Christian Garay, 6-2, 6-1, 6-0, and Llompart brought Puerto Rico even with a 6-2, 6-3, 6-1 win over Seanon Williams.††