Rain forces tennis into 5th day

The Davis Cup Americas Group ll round three tie between Barbados and Venezuela was suspended today as Hurricane Maria dumped persistent showers on the island.

Local tennis star Darian King came out with one purpose in mind yesterday morning at the National Tennis Center. And that was to dispose of Venezuela’s number one seed Ricardo Rodriguez and level the contest 2-2 to force a fifth and decisive rubber in order to keep Barbados’ hope of a Group l promotion alive.

Darian King regained confidence to swing the Davis Cup Americas Group ll round three tie in Barbados’ favour. (Pictures by Morissa Lindsay).

The rain drizzled on two occasions which interrupted play for very short time spans but the third time was no charm as the downpour came at 11:25 a.m. and suspended the reverse singles match for the remainder of the day.

King led 2-1 in the second set after losing the opening set 7-5 to Rodriguez in an hour and 25 minutes of tennis action. Resuming today at 2 p.m., King broke Rodriguez twice in four games and was on his way to possibly closing out the second set when the rain came and once again abruptly ended play with a 5-2 scoreline.

Barbados’ junior national players were dedicated to ensuring the court was dry for play.

According to King, the number of rain interruptions can break a player’s rhythm but he said the showers were a blessing in disguise because it gave him a chance to recuperate and regain some confidence after losing the doubles match on Saturday with teammate Haydn Lewis.

“It is very difficult [to start, stop] but I am very happy to get back on court because I knew that I wanted to play again, I felt it coming on to the end yesterday but being disrupted by rain…

“I think I am really happy for the rain to have fallen, I was really downhearted yesterday and didn’t feel like playing and I was just happy that it happened [rain fell]. It gave me a chance to go home and get my thoughts together and get some motivation from my coaches and now fight for Barbados,” he said.

On Sunday, the 159th ranked King was down 2-0 in the opening set and having lost first serve was able to break Rodriguez during the third game to score a point and cut the deficit by one (1-2). Both men were patient during each rally and once an opening presented itself were able to pounce especially King with those crosscourt forehand smashes on the wing or whenever Rodriguez played anything short at the forecourt, as King came from behind to equalize 4-4 and take a 5-4 lead.

Unfortunately, the rain came at exactly 10:55 a.m. and broke King’s momentum as play was suspended. On resumption, Rodriguez managed to score the equalizer and went on to secure the next two games of the first set to take a 1-0 lead.

King was able to regain his momentum, showing much better composure to start the second set as he took a 1-0 lead but Rodriguez ranked 812th did not allow the homeboy to build on that score as the Venezuelan managed to tie the game in the second set at 1-1.

As the skies became darker, King with his top serves and attacking shots was able to retain the advantage 40-15 to take a 2-1 lead and the scores were locked 30-30 on Rodriguez’ serve when the rains came and suspended play indefinitely for the day.

Yet another bad timing for the Bajan ace who was beginning to find his footing and perhaps a bit of confidence as well having suffered an unfortunate defeat with teammate Haydn Lewis in Saturday’s all-important doubles match against the pair of Luis Martinez and Jordi Munoz.

A win by King over Rodriguez would leave Barbados’ fate in the hands of Lewis who has done it in the past in Group lll when Barbados and Mexico were tied 2-2 and Lewis came up with perhaps the biggest victory of his Davis Cup career to gain his country a Group ll promotion.

Barbados non-playing captain, Damien Applewhaite said in a recent press conference that if it comes down to Lewis, they are hoping the 31- year-old and this country’s most seasoned player on the team would be able to relive that moment against different opponents in Venezuela and possibly seal the deal for the Barbados team.

In an interview earlier today, Applewhaite said despite the rain interruption, the team remained focused on the task before them.

“The team is focused. Darian is locked in and he came out here today ready to go, he got nice breaks from Venezuela who started patchily. We are actually happy to see it a little windy because we actually performed well and got our best results in the wind,” he said.

Tomorrow is the final reserved day with play scheduled for 10 a.m. at the Tennis Center.

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