By T.B. Rahaman
Sri Lanka made a good start to their bid for promotion to group II by defeating Vietnam by three matches to nil on the first day of the Asia/Oceania Group III Davis Cup tournament held at the SLTA clay courts at Sir Marcus Fernando Mawatha yesterday.
Sri Lanka began the tie with Oshada Wijemanne taking on Vietnam’s number one, Le Quoc Khanh in the opening game. Although Wijemanne won in straight sets 6/3, 6/4, he made some vital unforced errors during the game. Due to this Wijemanne could not take complete control of the game.
Other than for these little faults Wijemanne hit some hard strokes to rally that often gave Khanh little time to return his storkes. There were times when Wijemanne should have placed his shots with soft stroke and the bottom spin but he often opted to hit hard.
Sometimes these hard hits sent the ball out of the boundary and lost points. This is why Wijemanne gave away as many as three points in the first set and four points in the second set.
Wijemanne’s powerful service also earned his points through short of length aces to the Vietnamese player.
Harshana Godamanna took the court for the second game against Hoang Thanh Trung. This game finished in about 90 minutes with Godamanna winning the first set on 6/1 and the second set on 6/4.
Godamanna did not allow the Vietnamese to settle down in the first set and gave the only point when he lost his break point in the fourth game.
Hoang took a good start in the second and went on to lead on four games to two with Godamanne losing some of his composure and make several unforced errors. His low shots hit the net or his hard hits would land out of the court to lose points.
Thereafter, he decided to settle down to play orthodox tennis and earned his points by cleverly placing his shots. He won the rest of the games to finish winner on 6/4.
The doubles game began about 45 minutes later with Godamanna and Rajeev Rajapakse taking on Le Quoc Khanh and Ngo Quang Huy after a quick lunch.
This is because Godamanne had only finished his singles match and needed some rest before taking the court for the doubles match too. However, the Lankan pair combined so well that they finished the first set on 6/1 in just over 20 minutes.
But the second set was a different story. The Vietnamese settled down to play orthodox tennis and at times slowed down the pace by lobbing the ball over the net. But after Sri Lankan pair had won five games to three by the Vietnamese, their game plan fell apart.
The Lankan pair had only to win the fifth game to win the set but they lost two match points and went on to lose that game. The scores then were equalled at 6/all that went in to the tie breaker. The Vietnamese pair continued to control the game and won the tie breaker and the set on 7/6.
The Vietnamese pair made a grand start in the third set winning the first three games in a row. They were taking control of the game with their sharp rallying and accurate placement of shots forcing the Lankan pair to make the mistakes.Then when the scores where 4/2 in favour of the Vienamese, the Lankan pair settled down and played with more care.
They then make it 3/5 down and from that point onwards Godamanna and Rajapakse played with better understanding to win the rest of the games and win the set on 7/5 leaving Sri Lanka comprehensive winners. Sri Lanka will take on Myanmar today from 10 a.m. onwards unless overnight rain has dampened the court and needs drying up to delay the start.