Lewis is ready for El Salvador
THIS TIME EL SALVADOR will have to account for Haydn Lewis.
Even the visitors are acknowledging the difference Barbados’ No.2 is going to make to this weekend’s matchup, after saying the home side will be a much better team due to Lewis’ presence for the Davis Cup tie.
Both Arévalo brothers, Marcelo and Rafael, expressed the sentiment during yesterday’s pre-draw Press conference after Lewis missed last year’s 4-1 thumping in Central America.
“I think they have a good team now, better than the one we played last year in El Salvador as they beat Chile and that was one of the better teams in Group II because they had three or four players in the top 400,” said Marcelo.
“I’ve played Haydn and Darian [King] a couple times in Futures and in the Pan American Games so we know it’s going to be tough for us but as everyone knows we are a fighting team.
“We fight for every match, that’s what we do and I think we’re going to do it again,” he added.
The comments came in anticipation of tomorrow’s start to what is set to be an enthralling semi-final Group II tie between two rivals that have met twice before over the last four years.
But El Salvador have enjoyed the better of those recent exchanges, beating Barbados on both occasions, including last year’s 4-1 opening round thumping in Santa Tecla.
That margin of victory was somewhat misleading though, with the hosts taking advantage of Lewis’ absence with straight-set victories over the lesser experienced Seanon Williams and Anthony Marshall.
However, the local No.2 is back, and possibly better than ever after showcasing his big serve and elite volleying skills while pairing with King for a pivotal doubles win over Chile.
“I’m ready and I know what I have to do as we have our plan. It’s just to go out there and execute it,” said the 27-year-old lefty.
“We know all the players just like they know us, so we know what to expect and we know what we’re working towards in order to execute our goal.
“And it’s more in our favour to play on the hard court. I can’t really comment and say they’re bad on the hard court or not that good but I know playing at home on hard court is better for us,” he added.
It’s a point that’s been stressed heavily ahead of the big showdown, as three of El Salvador’s four victories over Barbados have come on the slower clay surfaces.
Barbados’ cause wasn’t helped any by the fact that the last two matchups have also been played at high altitudes in front of the Central American’s raucous home support.
“We not only played them on clay but at high altitude, and I know we are much better at sea level on the hard courts,” said the Bajan non-playing captain of the side’s two losses in 2009 and 2013.
“They are not bad on the hard courts but we are much better at sea level and we should be able to execute our plans a lot better down here.”
But the thought of facing Barbados on more favourable conditions for the hosts hasn’t exactly been daunting for the visitors, especially Rafael, who claims he has quickly acclimatised to the faster court and windy conditions.
“It’s much better for Barbados but we’re prepared to play here after practising in Barbados for the last few days,” said the elder Arévalo brother.
“We played on clay courts in El Salvador because we know there are no clay courts here in Barbados but I don’t think that clay is our best surface as I think Marcelo plays better on hard courts and I also feel comfortable here.”