Accra, July 15, GNA - Henry Adjei-Darko, Ghana's Number one seed, salvaged the nation's pride when he played a great game to beat the Georgian number two seed, Lado Chikhladze 7-6 (9-7), 6-2, 6-2 to level proceedings 1-1, after the opening day's play of the Euro-Africa Zone two play-off at the Frank Ofori Centre Court of the Ohene Djan Sports Stadium on Friday. The win, which was very crucial, came after Georgia had taken the lead in the opening day's other singles encounter when Georgian number one seed, Irakli Labadze, ranked 164 in the world, easily disposed of Ghana's number two seed Gunther Darkey 6-2, 6-2, 6-1. Henry's win, was more significant as it afforded him an emotional reunion with his father, the most important pillar in his tennis life, who was in the stands to watch him for the first time after their fallout just before Ghana's last Davis Cup encounter against Finland last March.
The player, who immediately after the match could not resist the inspiration his father gave him through the match, went into the stands and hugged him amidst tears.
Henry, who went into the match, ranked 424 in the world against his opponent ranked 613, was given a scare in the very first game when the Georgian broke after the Ghanaian failed to deal with the returns of the Georgian.
The game then went with serve as the two serve and volley players relied on their big booming serves to some effect till the sixth game when the Ghanaian broke back.
The Ghanaian who gradually imposed himself on the game appeared to have found an antidote to the powerful serves of the Georgian who was always caught by Adjei Darko's powerful groundstrokes during the rally. The temperamental Georgian then appeared to have lost focus briefly as he double faulted seven times after the Ghanaian broke back. But the Ghanaian failed to take advantage of the situation and against the run of play it was the Georgian who took advantage of a double fault from Adjei Darko to break again in the 11th game. Sensing danger the Ghanaian returned to court in the next game in blistering form running riot to take a three break points advantage, which he held on to break back to send the first set into a tie-break. In a ding-dong tiebreaker, which saw the advantage change hands number of times, it was the Ghanaian who finally took advantage of another double fault by the Georgian to finish off the first set 9-7 after exactly one hour.
After taking the initiative in the first set the Ghanaian did not relent as he went into action from the very first game in the second set putting pressure on the serve on the Georgian who managed to hold on though with some difficulty till the fifth game.
Henry whose first serve started working for him managed to break the Georgian twice in the fifth and seventh games to take a 5-2 lead which he finished off in grand style saving three break points on his serve to win the second set in a much more easy 6-2 fashion in just 30 minutes.
The third set started with Henry not giving the Chikhladze the breathing space in the very first game as the Georgian game disintegrated as he double faulted on break point to give Ghana the early initiative.
Lado Chikhladze, now relying exclusively on his booming serves, managed to hold on to his serve with difficulty in the third and fifth games as the Henry appeared going for the kill.
Henry finally had the second break that he had searched for in the seventh game when the Georgian's serve disserted him. The Ghanaian then finished off the encounter in grand style, which he held on to win 6-2 after 32 minutes.
Lado Chikhladze frustrated by the way he played broke his racket and tore his shirt whilst relieved fans, who had packed the Centre Court, carried their hero shoulder high amidst singing and jubilation. The Competition continues on Saturday with the doubles event.