FOR ALL OF CHILE’s big rankings, the only number that matters to Barbados is one.
The hosts are now just a win away from winning their biggest Davis Cup tie ever after Darian King and Haydn Lewis pulled out an all-important doubles victory yesterday by outlasting Chileans Jorge Aguilar and Christian Garin 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-3 at the National Tennis Centre.
That monumental triumph gave the underdog Bajans a crucial 2-1 lead, with the home side needing only a win from today’s two reverse singles matches in order to advance to an Americas Group II semi-final date with the winner of the El Salvador-Paraguay showdown.
But this wasn’t supposed to be the storyline of a rubber pitting the 63rd-rated Barbados side against a former South American giant that once participated in the World Group and consists of players all ranked inside the top 400.
No matter the opponent though, Lewis and King just don’t seem to lose doubles matches at home.
For the third time in as many ties on home soil, the dynamic duo proved a near perfect combination while riding Lewis’ massive serves and an equally stout return game from King.
So dominant was Lewis in his service game that the big-hitting lefty never faced a single break point, nor was he even extended to deuce while firing aces and service winners almost at will.
“I was being very consistent, not trying to serve as hard as I could but just trying to hit the spots well,” said the seasoned Davis Cup vet.
“That put a lot of pressure on them as well and once we started making a bit more returns then it sent a message that they had to go for their serves.”
It didn’t help matters any that Chile had to go with Garin instead of the customary Hans Podlipnik-Castillo, who was a last-minute scratch due to what appeared to be a back injury.
And Garin’s discomfort readily showed, especially in the first set where he was broken twice, including his last service game when he blasted two forehands long to hand the hosts a one-set lead.
However, he and Aguilar bounced back immediately, breaking King with a pair of stunning forehand passes to start the set before doing so again to end the stanza after the Bajan no. 1 wasted a comfortable 40-0 cushion while serving down 3-5.
Barbados’ level of play picked up thereafter though, especially that of Lewis, who started to blast some huge forehand winners when given the slightest of angles.
Not that their net play was shabby either as both King and Lewis routinely came up with nifty half-volley pickups from their shoelaces and even more stunning reflex volleys.
It still didn’t result in them walking away with the third set, not once Aguilar also stepped up a gear and made Barbados force a tiebreak. But the hosts were just too good, winning the final three points of that tiebreak after using great serve placement produce easy volleys.
Yet Chile refused to go away quietly despite having to deal with a pumped up home crowd, once threatening King’s serve again before another of Lewis’ stunning volleys gave the hosts a 2-1 advantage.
Garin eventually cracked though, surrendering his serve after double-faulting and receiving a blistering forehand pass from King, before Lewis duly closed out the contest with a pair of thundering first serves.
“It now keeps the pressure on Chile and gives us a lot more breathing room,” said captain Kevin Yarde of the win.
King is slated to meet Gonzalo Lama at 10 a.m. in a must-win reverse singles match for Chile while Lewis will take on Garin later if the visitors extend the tie to a decisive fifth rubber.