Relegation looms for the Radisson Barbados Davis Cup team as they trail 0-2 against Ecuador in their Americas Zone Group l Second Round Play-off Davis Cup tie which commenced today at the National Tennis Center.
The presence on court of Darian King, Barbados’ number one seeded player and ranked 186 in the world in singles, was not enough to stop Ecuador number two Emilio Gomez and he won the second rubber of the day 6-3, 3-6 and 6-3 in the best of three sets showdown.
The last time Barbados were relegated to Group Two was 2016 but they managed to gain promotion in 2017, and now the national side are on the verge of going down once more.
King entered that rubber in a must-win situation after number two seeded Matthew Foster-Estwick noticeably holding the back of his right thigh during the match lost the first singles in straight sets 6-0, 6-1 to Ecuadorian number one Roberto Quiroz ranked 213 in a match that lasted just over one hour.
During the post-match press conference, King said: “He [Gomez] came out more confident than I did, I got off to a slow start, and that is not normal for me because the last couple of matches I played here in Barbados I got off to a great start against all my opponents. But things change, I think that he was way more confident than I was, I was trying to save the tie, and he was up one. So, it is just something that I have to work on adapting faster during matches.”
It’s simply do or die for team Barbados, ranked 40 in the world with 593.75 points, just three places behind the visitors at number 37. The six-member side will rely heavily on Haydn Lewis to come big when he teams up with King for tomorrow’s doubles match against Ecuadorian specialist pair of Gonzalo Escobar and Diego Hidalgo at 9:30. a.m.
It will be a mountain to climb considering Barbados have lost two ties so far for this year against Colombia and most recently the Dominican Republic who earned their place to compete in Group l come 2019 for the seventh consecutive year after registering a 4-0 win over the Bajans in April during the first-round relegation play-off tie.
Contrary to his 383 singles ranking, Gomez, the son of former 1990 French Grand Slam winner Andres Gomez, showed his real quality on the court today. The 26-year-old is no stranger to Barbados having played here two years ago in 2016. The right-hander took the first set against King who got off to a slow start which had him on the back foot from early.
The local right-handed ace was then forced to up his game as he took on Gomez in some extensive rallies as both men traded superb groundstrokes that were of world-class standard and had the small crowd fully engaged.
In the second set, the game was tied 2-2 and King went ahead 3-2, then won the next point when he deuced and took advantage for a crucial break point to lead 4-2. Following that Gomez managed to win the third point, but King at 5-3 went on to capture a triple set point to equalize 1-1 and force a third and decisive set.
Gomez won the first two games to start and put King under pressure yet again. The local number one needed to break the Ecuadorian in a bid to win the third game and avoid that mental hurdle of having to come from 0-3 down. Unfortunately, Gomez went ahead to take a 5-0 lead, and even though King who decided to change his armband to dry his wrist a bit was able to fight his way back 3-5, Gomez with the service at this stage ensured he won that set point to finish the game 2-1.
In the opening match, Gomez’s cousin Quiroz who is currently Ecuador’s top player made light work of Foster-Estwick who doesn’t have any ranking points and did not have the best of time on the court.
The 21-year-old Foster-Estwick who was promoted as Barbados’ number two guy ahead of Lewis was unable to execute those thunderous serves and backhand shots which he attempted quite a lot but were returned with a bit too much power to his left-handed opponent.
Quiroz was up 5-0 in the first set when a medical timeout was called for team Barbados, and when asked about it during the post-match press conference, an emotional Foster-Estwick said: “I don’t want to talk about it.”
Tomorrow starts with the doubles match followed by the two reverse singles.