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14 September 2013

Colombia take charge with doubles win


By Jack Gallagher

Photo: Takeo TanumaRobert Farah (COL) and Juan-Sebastian Cabal (COL)

TOKYO, JAPAN: Juan-Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah took Colombia to a 2-1 lead with a straight sets 61 62 61 victory over Japan's Tatsuma Ito and Yuichi Sugita in doubles at their BNP by Paribas Davis Cup World Group play-off at Ariake Coliseum on Saturday afternoon.

Playing indoors on the hard court, the Colombians took charge early and were never threatened.

Cabal and Farah broke Ito and Sugita in the second game of the first set as they raced out to a 3-0 lead. The Japanese pair finally held in the fourth game, but that was all they could muster as Colombia took the set in just 23 minutes.

Ito and Sugita were hurt by only being able to get in 50 percent of their first serves in the set.

The second set provided more of the same. The Colombians broke in the first and third games and were up 4-0 before Japan held serve to make it 4-1.

Cabal and Farah, who advanced to the quarterfinals at this year's Australian Open, dominated the match by continually coming to the net and launching vollies that Ito and Sugita could not handle. The Japanese tried to play from the baseline, but had little success.

So one-sided was the match that Japan did not have a single break point in the entire contest, which took just one hour 27 minutes.

Japan had nearly twice as many unforced errors (51-26) as their opponents in the loss.

"We almost didn't have any mistakes today," said Farah. "We had the answer for everything they threw at us."

Colombia captain Mauricio Hadad considered victory in the doubles crucial for his team.

"It was important for us to win the doubles," he stated. "We're in a good position now being up 2-1. We hope we can win one of the singles on Sunday."

Despite the resounding defeat, Japan captain Minoru Ueda remains confident heading into the final day of the tie.

"We knew they had a good doubles team, so it would be tough. These guys compete together in the Grand Slams," said Ueda. "The important thing is to get the three points. We feel good about the singles with Kei and Go.".

Kei Nishikori defeated Alejandro Falla in straight sets 63 64 64 in the opening singles match on Friday, before Santiago Giraldo outlasted Go Soeda in five sets 64 36 75 36 61 in the second contest to level the tie.

Japan originally had Nishikori and Soeda penciled in for the doubles, but substituted Ito and Sugita on Saturday morning. Soeda's loss to Giraldo came in a 3-hour, 24-minute battle, and likely factored into the decision to make the switch.

Hadad said he figured a change by Japan was likely ahead of the match.

"We were expecting a change, but we didn't know what it was going to be," he commented. "We were surprised that Kei did not play doubles today."

Nishikori, ranked 12th in the world, will face No. 85 Giraldo in Sunday's first reverse singles match as Japan tries to stay alive. Soeda is slated to take on Alejandro Falla in the second.

Japan was knocked out of World Group last September after a 3-2 loss to Israel at Ariake. Japan had returned to the top level for the first time in 27 years, but was unable to stay there. It defeated Korea 3-2 in April to advance to the playoff.

Colombia, which routed Uruguay 5-0 earlier this year, is trying to earn a spot in the World Group for the first time.

A loss by Japan would see it remain in the Asia-Oceania Zone next year.

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Captain Mauricio Hadad (COL) - 14/09/2013

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