Doubles delight – Bajans take 2-1 lead in Davis Cup tie
On a day Barbados welcomed Haydn Lewis’ comeback the country all but celebrated returning to Group II for another year.
The hosts are now but a game away from wrapping up their Davis Cup rubber against Puerto Rico after taking a crucial 2-1 lead in the elimination tie following Lewis and Darian King’s straight-sets doubles victory yesterday at the National Tennis Centre, Wildey.
Playing in front an appreciative home crowd, the Bajans slammed Alex Llompard and Gilberto Alvarez 6-3, 6-4, 6-1.
The home side needs just a win in either of today’s two reverse singles matches to avoid demotion to Group III.
It was far from the only cause for celebration at the hardcourt venue, where most discerning eyes would’ve eagerly awaited to see Lewis’ form following his well-publicized hiatus from the game.
But the silky-smooth southpaw never had the look of a man who hasn’t played competitively for nine months while dropping a mere two points off his first four service games.
Rifling winners off his serve almost at will, Lewis practically toyed with the visitors while keeping his serve on a string to produce easy points off both his first and second serve offerings.
“It feels really, really good because I was always excited to play again,” said the upbeat 27-year-old.
“I knew I had it in me. It was just if I was mentally prepared to do it or not. I focused as much as I can and everything came together but it’s a bonus to play really well, so that was just the icing on the cake.
“I served really well today and that’s one thing to keep up,” he added.
But Lewis wasn’t the only one to have a great day serving as neither he nor King dropped a single service game in the entire match after the two faced a combined four break points.
And two of those came in the day’s very first game while King fell behind 15-40 following a pair of lusty Llompard return winners. King responded with a pair of service winners and Barbados were never really threatened after the two decided to stay away from Llompard’s ferocious forehand.
They did pick on Alvarez though, pouncing on his near lollipop offerings to break the uninspired Puerto Rican in four of his six service games.
At least he was lucky enough to get away the first time around after dropping to 0-40 with Barbados leading 2-1 in the first set.
Alvarez wasn’t so fortunate four games later as Lewis and King teed off on weak second serves for successive return winners before King closed out the set on his serve the very next game.
The guests managed to make a contest of the second set while holding on to a 3-2 lead, only for Barbados to break Alvarez again for a 4-3 lead before Lewis and King each held to put the hosts up two sets to love.
And the match was all but over after King produced a searing backhand crosscourt passing shot to break Alvarez and give the home side a quick 2-1 cushion in the third set.
Llompart also lost his serve, and at love too as King and Lewis rattled off a string of 12 successive points at one point to go up 5-1.
Alvarez ended the Puerto Rican points drought with a first serve winner, only to double fault and hit a forehand long on match point.
King is slated to play Llompart in a battle of the country’s No.1s at 10 a.m. before Lewis takes the court against Christian Garay in today’s other reverse singles match.