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King, Lewis in all matches

JUSTIN MARVILLE, [email protected]

King, Lewis in all matches

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 Barbados won’t be leaving anything to chance.

The hosts are definitely going for their winners as the BTMI Davis Cup squad has opted to play Darian King and Haydn Lewis in all the matches against Colombia, including tomorrow’s doubles and reverse singles.

Non-playing captain Damien Applewhaite finally revealed his team’s strategy at the draw of today’s start to the opening round Group I tie at the National Tennis Centre.

“We assessed our opposition and we also assessed the new format of the competition and we decided that Haydn does possess the tools necessary to give us the best results possible over the shortened format,” said Applewhaite.

“They’re both fit. Haydn’s been in his best condition for years now and he demonstrated that in 2017. We’re not too worried about his physical state right now and Haydn mentioned in previous press conferences that the fatigue will be more emotional than physical.”

The decision doesn’t come as much of a shock, taking into account the youthful and inexperienced nature of the team’s supporting cast, which features three players under the age of 21, including a pair of teenaged rookies.

The shortened format also puts pressure on the hosts to get out to a quick start, especially considering they are set to face two top 30 doubles players in Juan-Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah, who are fresh from reaching the Australian Open final.

But that new format could take its toll on both King and Lewis, particularly on a jam-packed Saturday where both men head straight into reverse singles directly following the doubles.

“I don’t think we’re going to worry about Saturday just yet [as] the main focus is on what we have to do [today],” Lewis explained.

“I’m up first against Daniel [Galan] and I’m looking to put my best foot forward. Then, given the results [today], we’ll focus on what we have to do Saturday. That [2-0] lead would be ideal but we can’t think about that too much right now.”

Yet the Bajans can bank on a strong home record that has seen them lose just once in nine previous outings at the National Tennis Centre when King and Lewis play the entire tie.

And King too has proven near unbeatable in front his home crowd while going 16-1 over his last 17 Davis Cup singles matches in Barbados.

Yet the world No. 177 doesn’t figure to see any easy matches this weekend as he faces a former top 70 player in Alejandro Gonzalez right off the bat today.

“It’s a tough match for both players as we know each other from the tour over many tournaments and I feel prepared for the match,” said Gonzalez.

“I know Barbados are very strong here, especially Darian. They’re tough to play here but I am just focused on what I have to do here and I feel very confident as the conditions here are the same for everyone.

“Physically, I am prepared and I feel good to be playing under the Colombian flag again on a very good team. I’m happy with what I did in Australia with the first tournament,” he added. (JM)