By Kristel Satumbaga
Brothers Stefanos and Petros Tsitsipas carried the Greek team to a commanding 2-0 lead on Friday in the World Group II Davis Cup playoff tie against the Philippines at the Philippine Columbian Association claycourt in Paco, Manila.
World No. 6 Stefanos dazzled the crowd with flashes of world-class brilliance to cruise past AJ Lim 6-2, 6-1 before Petros routed Jeson Patrombon in a similar 6-2, 6-1 fashion as the Greeks moved a win away from claiming the best-of-five tie.
Stefanos, the 21-year-old Greek sensation, dictated the tempo throughout the 53-minute match, displaying powerful one-handed backhands and a strong baseline game that had the crowd gushing on every point.
In the end, it was all too much for 20-year-old Lim, who dropped his serve five times.
Stefanos said it was not easy for him, either.
“It was quite difficult to adjust to the court. The bounce was kinda all over the place, but I still found ways to give the ball back,” said Stefanos, who is coming off a runner-up finish to Novak Djokovic at the Dubai Tennis Championships last weekend.
“I think I played okay. Enough to win (today).”
Stefanos said the hot and humid conditions inside the court was the most difficult, adding that he was not used to such conditions.
“That last game was really difficult. I tell you, it feels like a sauna in there,” he said.
“But I think it’s good for my cardio.”
Stefanos had good words for Lim despite his lopsided victory.
“He came in quite nervous, I think, but he slightly improved from time to time. It was also not easy for me because I knew deep inside I really have to work for the points. I just stayed consistent and he didn’t, so that’s the difference,” he said.
Lim, for his part, said he did the best he could, but Tsitsipas was another level.
“He was just unreal,” he said. “I gave everything I had, but he just countered everything.”
For Petros, it was good to share the singles victory with his brother.
“It was a very good game for me from start to finish. I had a good mindset at the start and it is important for the match. I personally think I played solid. I didn’t do a lot of mistakes, I didn’t give him a lot of opportunities to attack,” he said.
The Filipinos are on a must-win situation on Saturday’s doubles pitting veterans Francis Casey Alcantara and Ruben Gonzales against Petros and Markos Kalovelonis if they want to keep their tie bid alive.
The reverse singles have Stefanos and Patrombon, and Petros against Lim.
Changes, however, can be made an hour before the match.