Accra, March 4, GNA - Injury robbed Ghana's top seed Henry Adjei Darko of giving the nation her first victory in opening day of the Euro-Africa Zone II Davis cup tie as Finland took a 2-0 commanding lead at Ohene Djan Sport Stadium on Friday.
Henry, tipped to give the nation a lifeline after young Mohammed Salifu had earlier stumbled to a 6-1, 6-2,6-1 defeat to Jarkko Nieminem, number one seed of Finland, pulled a muscle in the third game of the third set against Tuomas Ketola and never recovered in their three-hour tie.
After intermittent attention by the Ghanaian paramedics, Henry gave up the "ghost" and gifted the third and fourth sets 6-1, 6-0 to his opponent.
Ketola won the gruelling first set 6-7 (7-4 on tiebreak) but Henry recovered from the second game of the second set and never looked back. He relied heavily on his power serves and produced eight aces forcing his opponent to double fault twice to win the set 7-5.
Disaster, however, struck the Ghanaians in the third game of the third set when Henry started experiencing cramps in his right thigh but team Captain David Churcher failed to scratch the match hoping that the player would recover as the game progressed.
Henry succumbed to the pains in the fourth set, smashed his racket on the court and gave up the challenge in the third game of the set to end it all.
Churcher told the GNA that Henry's injury was a big blow to the team but was yet to consult the entire playing body to agree on a possible replacement.
Less than 24 hours before the competition, number two seed Gunther Darkey failed to shake off a shoulder injury and was subsequently replaced by Salifu.
The tournament continues on Saturday with the double. Finland takes a 1-0 lead in Davis Cup Accra, March 4, GNA - Finland took a 1-0 lead in the opening day of the Euro-Africa Zone II Davis Cup tie when they won the opening rubber of the reverse singles played at the Frank Ofori Centre Court of the Ohene Djan Sport Stadium in Accra on Friday.
The first to taste the Finnish music was young Salifu Mohammed, Ghana's number two who came in as a late substitute for injured Gunther Darkey who pulled out a day before the start of the tournament.
The Finnish number one seed, Jarkko Niemanem ranked 89th in the world was too hot for his young Ghanaian counterpart as he dominated from start to finish winning the opening rubber 6-1, 6-2, 6-1.
Jarkko who played in this year's Australian open did not give the 18 year old Ghanaian time to settle as he broke his serve in the very first game of the first set and run through the first four games with ease.
The Ghanaian recovered in the fifth game to hold unto his serve but the inconsistencies that troubled him in the beginning returned, allowing the Finn to win the two remaining games to take the first set 6-1.
The second set started with Mohammed showing signs of recovery when he held unto his serve in the first two games.
But Jarkko, like in the first set, turned on his style and with the help of some unforced errors by the Ghanaian allowed him a break in the fifth game to take a well-deserved lead.
Mohammed was not allowed into the game from the fifth game as the Finn dominated thus winning the remaining games in the set with his powerful ground-strokes and clever passing shots which the Ghanaian had no answers to.
The third set was not different from the first two as the Finn took advantage of the unforced errors by the Ghanaian and broke in the fourth game to pound the Ghanaian with some powerful ground strokes which were too hot for the Ghanaian to handle. After the break in the fourth game, the Ghanaian appeared out-of-sorts allowing the Finn to win the remaining games easily.