Thais fight back to keep alive Davis Cup hopes

sports February 05, 2018 01:00

By Lerpong Amsa-ngiam
The Nation

Thailand rallied back from 2-1 down to beat hosts Sri Lanka 3-2 in the Davis Cup Zone Asia/Oceania Qualifying Group II first-round tie in Colombo on Sunday.

Despite going into the tie as the regional top seeds, the Kingdom’s players struggled on the unfamiliar clay surface and things got worse when, with the tie poised at 1-1, Sonchat Ratiwatana had to pull out of yesterday’s doubles with diarrhea.

The inexperienced Palaphoom Kovapitakted stepped up to partner Sanchai Ratiwatana but they were nowhere good enough, losing 6-3 6-4 to Yasitha de Silva and Sharmal Dissanayake in 70 minutes. 

At that stage the Sri Lankans scented an upset victory on their national Independence Day – but Thai No 1 Wishaya Trongcharoenchaikul levelled the tie with a 7-5 6-0 demolition of Alex Fairbanks in 68 minutes.

Wishaya served for the first set at 5-4 but didn’t capitalize on his chance by allowing the Sri Lankan to fight back for five all. The Thai broke right back to lead 6-5 with his powerful groundstrokes and successfully served out for the first set at 7-5.

“Our backs were against the wall, so I had no other option but to win the fourth rubber,” said Wishaya, who alone notched two of Thailand’s points in the tie. 

“I knew I had to be really focused to win. He was serving well in the first set but after I got used to his game, I played quite comfortably from then on.”

Jirat Navasirisomboon then made amends for his first-up surprise loss to Sharmal Dissanayake by sealing a 3-2 overall win, downing de Silva 7-5 6-2 in one hour and 10 minutes.

He admitted to being nervous with all eyes on him in the deciding rubber.

“I was tense when it all came down to me. I tried to play according to my game plan and felt more confident after I took the first. It was a relief to win the deciding rubber after I conceded one point on Saturday,” said Jirat, who has 4-1 record in Davis Cup.

Thailand remain invincible in eight ties against Sri Lanka dating back to 1961. 

The No1 Asia/Oceania seeds now progress to a second-round tie in April against the third-seeded Philippines, who yesterday saw off Indonesia 4-1 in Jakarta.