Six reasons to watch the Davis Cup

The US Open begins on Monday. Who’s the favorite? No question: the lefty from Spain. As tenacious as a bull from Madrid and as prolific a scorer as the Spanish football World Cup champs — Rafael Nadal is the Usain Bolt-frontrunner sprinting towards the year’s Grand Slam finish in New York City.

He beat R. Federer. He won his 11th straight over T. Berdych. He towered over the 6-foot-10 J. Isner in last Sunday’s final in Ohio. He’s unbeaten this year on hard-courts — his least-favorite surface.

This 2013, with N. Djokovic prevailing in Australia, Rafa at the French Open, and A. Murray at Wimbledon, will we witness a fourth different major winner in America?

Possibly, the Swiss maestro, Roger? Unlikely. But the fan-favorite has won the US Open five straight times. The problem is, that was from 2004 to 2008. It’s now 2013 and Roger is a lowly-ranked world no. 5. Andy Murray? He seems to be overextending his honeymoon after Wimbledon. Like most experts, I’ll go with the butt-scratching, time-overextending, bandana-wearing matador from Mallorca winning his 13th major this ‘13.

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DAVIS CUP. This Sept. 13 to 15, the Kiwis from New Zealand will land in Mactan and battle our fellow Pinoys. Plenty of reasons why you should watch.

One: The matches start at 3 p.m. and extend until the night. This means that, while immersed in the midst of Plantation Bay Resort and Spa’s beauty, you’ll be relaxed. It won’t be hot. The setting will be perfect.

Two: This Philippines-New Zealand battle is the final round of Group 2 competition. It’s crucial. Whoever wins will be elevated to the higher bracket that includes Japan, India and Australia. (Next to that category is the World Group — which includes the world’s Top 16.)

Three: It’s for free. While tickets will be distributed for early arrival/guaranteed seating, everybody else who wants to watch can watch. The goal is to jampack the open-air stadium. Thanks to the Lapu-Lapu City government and Cebuana Lhuillier (Jean Henri Lhuillier), who sponsor this event, we get to watch without paying P500/head.

Four: Like the Gilas Pilipinas, we get to cheer for our countrymen. Randy Villanueva, our Davis Cup administrator and the main person responsible for Cebu’s hosting the Davis Cup, confirms the attendance of Treat Huey and Ruben Gonzales.

“Treat is coming from the US Open,” said Randy. “He wasn’t able to defend his doubles ATP 500 title last week in Washington but he is doing well and hopefully he does good in the US Open … Ruben is also doing great as he came from Europe and joined a lot of doubles tap challenger; he is now top 200 in doubles, a career high. He is back in the States now and training with his personal coach for singles play for the coming Davis Cup.”

Five: New Zealand will field their star netter. Earlier this year, we defeated Syria, 3-2, and Thailand, 4-1.

Against New Zealand, I heard the news that their No. 1 player won’t be coming to Cebu. It turned out to be false. “If you’re talking about Daniel King Turner, who actually quit playing pro tennis recently,” said Randy Villanueva, “then it’s not true as he is coming as early as Sept 4 in Plantation Bay to train; the rest of his teammates arrive on Sept 8 or 9.” Now 29 years old, the 6’3” Turner was ranked just outside the world’s top 200 players in 2010. He recently announced his “retirement” from the pro circuit but has committed to Davis Cup play for NZ.

Six: Witness the honoring. “We are giving a Davis Cup committment award chosen by the ITF in coordination with Philta,” Randy said. “Davis Cup trophies will be given to three players and they are Johnny Jose, Reymundo Deyro and Johnny Arcilla. We will award them before the start of the Saturday doubles at 6 p.m. Also, Rod Rafael is coming to the Davis Cup tie and will try to help and inspire the team; really looking forward to this also.”

It’s a tennis date: Sept. 13, 14 and 15. Venue: Plantation Bay Resort and Spa.

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