Georgia takes a 2-1 lead
Accra, July 16, GNA - Ghana's aspirations of staying in Euro Africa Zone II of the Davis Cup by winning their play-off encounter against Georgia was given a severe jolt when the Georgians won Saturday's doubles encounter 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 at the Frank Ofori Centre Court at the Ohene Djan Sports Stadium in Accra.
The Georgian doubles win leaves the Golden Rackets job cut out meaning that they have to win all of Sunday's singles matches to stay in the Zone.
Ironically it was the Ghanaian pair of Henry Adjei-Darko and Gunther Darkey who started on a blistering note as they broke the serve of the Georgians in the second game when their number one seed, Irakli Labadze, ranked 164 in the world, double faulted after Ghana had taken a one break point advantage.
But to the amazement of the packed house the Ghanaian pair immediately handed back the advantage to the Georgians when they broke back, capitalizing on the weak serve of Gunther to run into a three break point advantage.
After the early trade of servings breaks, the two teams then managed to hold onto their serves though the Ghanaian pair appeared to be putting much more pressure on the serve of the Georgians. Ghana after several attempts, managed to get the break they have searched for in the 10th game as Irakli Labadze's serve was again broken when Adjei Darko's well-placed servings return was too hot for the Georgians to handle enabling Ghana to win the first set 6-4.
But the Ghanaian pair's game, immediately fizzled out in the second set as the Georgians attacked the weak and inconsistent serves of Gunther in the very first game and broke them to take the advantage. The Georgians did not relent after taking the early lead relying on the powerful serves of their number two seed, Lado Chikhladze and the intelligent display of Irakli Labadze, which ensured that the Ghanaians did not break back.
Frustrated by the inability to win anything on their opponent's serve, the Golden Rackets succumbed in the ninth game; when Gunther, who appeared to be off colour after a long stay off of the court, had his serve broken again to enable the Georgians to win the second set 6-3.
Unlike the Ghanaians, the Georgians did not relent from the initiative they took after winning the second set, as they attacked the serve of the weak link in the Ghanaian pair and broke the serve of Gunther in the third set to take a two games to nil lead.
The Ghanaians not prepared to allow themselves to be overrun by the Georgians in front of their partisan supporters put in a fight to level things up. Tried as they did, they found the Georgians unyielding till the seventh game when the crucial break came courtesy another double fault from Labadze after the Rackets had run into a three break point lead.
But the Georgians, who appeared to have a little more in reserve than the Ghanaians when the going got tough, broke back immediately in the eighth game to take the lead again on the serve Adjei Darko, which they held onto to win the third set 6-3.
With defeat, stirring in the face of the Ghanaians, with a fourth set defeat, the Rackets took the early initiative when they broke the serve of the Georgians in the second game when Adjei-Darko's well-placed overhead volley beat the advancing Georgians.
Again inconsistencies in Gunther's serve and his lack of killer instinct when covering the net came back to hunt the Rackets as the Georgians broke the Ghanaians back and levelled up three all after Ghana had taken a 3-0 lead.
The game then went with the servers till the Georgians broke the serve of the Ghanaians in ninth game when they took a three break point advantage on Gunther's serve to take the upper hand again in the ninth. With the crucial lead, all the Georgians needed to do was to hold unto their serve in the tenth game to win the match and they did that in a grand style when Chikhladze, whose powerful serves were too hot for the Ghanaians to handle throughout the match finished off with an ace. The defeat, left most of the pack crowd in the centre court asking why another player was not used instead of Gunther, who appeared rusty as a result his long absence from the court.
The competition continues on Sunday with the singles encounters, which would see Ghana's number one seed, Henry Adjei Darko playing the Georgian number one, Lado Chikhladze whilst Gunther Darkey the number two seed squares up with Lado Chikhladze the Georgian number two seed. July 16 05