New Zealand has started their Davis Cup tie against the Philippines in the best possible way, with a 2-0 lead after day one of the Asia/Oceania Group II promotion clash in Lapu-Lapu City.
In a see-saw contest New Zealand No 2 Michael Venus was able to defeat Philippines No 1 Ruben Gonzales in five sets on the clay court service, despite being down a match point in the fourth set and a being behind in the fourth set tiebreak. Venus eventually won the match 6-4 3-6 6-4 6-7(4) 6-0.
Kiwi No 1 Rubin Statham then played out a good match to overcome severe body cramp and Johnny Arcilla, a clay court specialist, in straight sets to give the Kiwis a great start to the tie and making team captain Alistair Hunt a satisfied man.
"I'm obviously really wrapped for the team,'' Hunt said. ``It was a roller coaster day. Mike Venus put in a massive effort saving a match point in the fourth set, and coming back 2-4 down in that set tiebreaker.
"Rubin was playing a great match and was easily up two sets, when he succumbed to severe cramps. He somehow managed to grind through, started shortening up points and through a supreme effort managed to hold on to win in three.''
The doubles on Saturday night (NZT) will see top-50 ranked doubles player Treat Huey and Francis Alcantara for the Philippines against Venus and Marcus Daniell.
The Philippines have a 3-2 head-to-head record against New Zealand in Davis Cup dating back to 1963. The last time the sides played saw New Zealand run out 5-0 winners in Hawera in 2011. The last time they clashed in the Philippines was in 2009 when the home team won 4-1.
The winner of the tie will gain promotion to Asia/Oceania Group I alongside nations such as Australia, Japan and India.
Meanwhile, women's No 1 Marina Erakovic won through to the semifinals of the US$235,000 WTA tournament in Quebec, Canada after coming from a set down in her quarter-final.
Erakovic, ranked 68th in the world, beat Croat Ajla Tomljanovic 2-6 6-1 7-5 to reach her second semifinal of the year after earlier winning her maiden title at Memphis.
She will play American Christina McHale in the semifinals. Erakovic made the final at the Quebec tournament in 2011.