Ruben Gonzales wins marathon match against Kuwait to give Philippines 2-0 lead in Davis Cup tie
Ruben Gonzales fought off two match points against Kuwait on Friday night. Freddie Dionisio

RUBEN Gonzales beat Mohammed Ghareeb on Friday night in their Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Group 2 first-round tie when the Kuwaiti retired due to exhaustion, 7-6 (2), 6-2, 1-6, 6-7 (6), 5-5 ret, giving host Philippines a 2-0 lead after the opening singles.

Gonzales blew a two-set lead but stormed back from a 4-1 deficit in the fifth set while saving match point in the eighth and 10th game to force a 5-5 deadlock in a wild. thrilling match that lasted more than four hours at the shell courts of the Valle Verge Country Club in Pasig City.

The end came when exhausted Ghareeb moments after letting Gonzales fight back from a 3-5 deficit, giving the hosts the chance to seal the tie in the doubles match on Saturday night beginning at 6 p.m.

In the first singles match, Jeson Patrombon beat Abdulrahman Alawahdi, 6-0, 6-2, 6-1, to give the early lead for the Philippine team supported by Cebuana Lhuillier, the Philippine Sports Commission and Yonex.

[See Patrombon kickstarts PH campaign in Davis Cup tie]

Gonzales looked on his way to a straight sets victory only to fell behind early in the third against Ghareeb, who took control with a 6-1 romp.

The Filipino netter put up a gallant fight in the fourth-set tiebreak, overcoming a 6-3 deficit to win the next three points. But the Kuwaiti regained his bearings by winning the final two points, including one on an ace, to send the match into a decider.

Ghareeb appeared to have gained momentum from that fourth set victory by taking a 4-1 win but Gonzales never gave up, surviving a 30-40 hole to take the final three points and claim the 10th game before the Kuwaiti retired.

Treat Huey and Francis Casey Alcantara are scheduled to face Ghareeb and Abdulhamid Mubarak in doubles action on Saturday. Huey is coming off a doubles win with Max Mirnyi in the ATP World Tour Acapulco last week.

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