Top-ranked Cambodia took an unassailable 2-0 lead over Myanmar at the start of the five-team Pool A round robin in the Asia/Oceania Group IV Davis Cup campaign in the town of Isa in Bahrain yesterday evening.
At the time of going to press, the teams were engaged in a dead doubles rubber.
Cambodia’s victory was built around contrasting wins from singles nominations Phalkun Mam and Long Samneang, as non-playing captain Tep Rithivit’s gamble of holding back No1 player Bun Kenny for the doubles paid off.
A four-year veteran and the team’s oldest member, Phalkun led the way with a 6-1, 7-5 win over Tin Myo Wai in a battle spread a little over two hours.
Without doing anything spectacular, Phalkun’s greater consistency on the court kept him going against an opponent who touched his best in a hard fought second set after a somewhat tentative start.
Long Samneang has been around for five years, since he was 17, and having been somewhat in the shadow of senior players here was his chance to prove his worth.
To his credit he grabbed it with open arms by posting his first live singles rubber victory and justify the captain’s faith in him.
It took 160 minutes and three sets for Samneang to overcome Aung Kya Naing 4-6, 6-3, 6-2. It was at the start of the second set that Samneang gradually took control of the pace of the rallies.
Once he bagged the second set to level the scores, the momentum was behind him. He got off to a 2-0 lead in the decider but dropped his serve only to regain the initiative by immediately breaking back.
“This was the kind of a start I was looking for. Phalkun did remarkably well and Samneang deserves praise for showing the tenacity to fight back from a set down,” Rithivit said.
“I want our players to build on this confidence. We have three more matches to go. Each one of them will be more difficult than the other but I have faith in this squad. The team dynamic has been good.”
In another Pool A fixture, Saudi Arabia took a 2-0 lead over hosts Bahrain.