It was the type of tennis local spectators were longing to see but not the result they wanted as Barbados went down 2-0 on the opening day of the Davis Cup Americas Group I tie against Colombia today.
Darian King had his work cut out for him after the visitors took a 1-0 lead in the opening singles match in which Haydn Lewis was defeated 6-0 and 6-4 against Daniel Galan in a best of three sets at the National Tennis Center.
All hope rested on the number one seeded star player to equalize 1-1 and bring Barbados back into the contest. But unfortunately it was a tough task under humid weather conditions, as King lost 7-5 and 6-3 against Alejandro Gonzalez, Colombia’s number two seeded player and a man formerly ranked 70th in the world.
Having had a dream run over the past few years, conceding just one loss on home soil, the right-handed 25-year-old explained during a brief press conference that he did not execute the way in which he had intended.
“I am really disappointed in my serves and something I spent the whole week working on and just didn’t execute it during the match. Also first game I broke and was up and just didn’t take advantage of being up, so for me it is just another match I have to play back and work on,” King said.
“Come tomorrow the game plan is to play a lot stronger and much more aggressive,” King added, as he spoke in relation to teaming up with Lewis in the doubles against world-class players Robert Farah and Juan Sebastian- Cabal, fresh from the Australian Grand Slam final.
“Obviously we have to come out pretty energetic, we are playing two guys that came from a big achievement in Australia, so just for the home crowd to come out and help us out, stick to our game plan and try to execute.”
Minus the double faults King did absolutely nothing wrong on court and played with lots of determination, traded shots with Gonzalez and earned his points whenever the opportunity was there for the taking.
It was a high calibre of tennis many had not seen before between King with a singles ranking of 169 and Gonzalez currently 328th in the world, but who played like a man in the world’s top 100.
The 28-year-old Colombian was as solid as they come, missing absolutely nothing that came his way and was very effective with both his forehand and backhand shots. His ranking was more indicative of his time off the circuit than his quality.
The opening set was extremely competitive with Gonzalez leading the game 6-5 and having his eyes set on securing match point. But King at 30-0 was making a case to once again come from behind and level the scores. But the quality of Gonzalez showed as he came from behind and led 40-30. King managed to win the next point and deuced his man at 40-40 but Gonzalez went on to take the advantage and never looked back.
Just before the fifth game of the second set, with the score locked at 2-2, King with only one game ball in his possession was calling for more balls when the chair umpire called him for time violation.
Thankfully the call did not get into his head too much as he was able to take the advantage and break Gonzalez for a 3-2 lead. Gonzalez eventually broke back not giving anything away to win the next two points and eventually the set and match.
In the second match, Lewis was too passive with his return plays and led to his failure to score a single point in the opening set against Galan, Colombia’s number one seeded player.
However, the 32-year-old Lewis, Barbados’ number two seed, was able to show a bit more fight in the second set despite the windy weather conditions against the tall Galan.
Lewis trailed Galan 3-4 in the second set and needed to ensure there was limited room for unforced errors in order to stay in the game. He managed to lead 30-0 but Galan fought his way back to 40-30 and threatened to take that game when the left-handed Lewis was able to deuce and take the advantage with a brilliant forehand shot.
That made things even at 4-4 but Galan with two lovely overhead lobs among other eye-catching plays went on to take the next two games and wrap up the set quite comfortably.
Speaking after the match Lewis admitted he did not start as attacking as he should have and that was part of his downfall in the match.
“I started a bit slow and had to get myself back into the game…I was trying to feel him out a bit [in the opening set] and to see how he was handling the wind and what not. But for me it is a fine line between doing that and me not starting how I need to start,” Lewis said.
Tomorrow’s doubles match begins at 9:30.a.m followed by the two reverse singles.