Azhar wins in first Davis Cup match
Top mens tennis player Naim Azhar achieved a milestone at this weeks Davis Cup Americas Zone Group III tournament in Bolivia.
The Bermudians singles victory over Panamas Jose Gomez was his first in Davis Cup play and perhaps one of his hardest fought after being pushed all the way on centre court at the Club de Tenis La Paz.
Azhar prevailed 7-6 (4), 7-6 (7) in the Group B match that saw both sets decided on tie-breakers.
It was a very special moment for me, Azhar told The Royal Gazette. To win a match in the name of my country has been a dream of mine for quite some time. Hopefully its the first of many.
Gomez won the toss and held serve in the opening game of the first. After falling behind 40-15 serving in the next game Azhar regained his footing to hold and even the set at 1-1 with some huge serves.
Both players then held serve the rest of the way to force the set into a tie-breaker which Azhar eventually won 7-4.
Gomez broke Azhars serve twice early in the second set to storm into a commanding 5-2 lead before his Bermudian rival staged a remarkable comeback with his back against the wall.
With his opponent serving for the set, Azhar dug deep and won the next three games to even the set at 5-5 and then held serve to surge into a 6-5 lead.
However, Gomez held serve in the next game to force another tie-breaker which Azhar won 9-7 to clinch his maiden Davis Cup win at the fourth attempt.
Naim fought hard in the tie-breaker and found strength from within to win his first ever Davis Cup singles match, commented Bermudas non-playing captain and coach Ricky Mallory. With a do or die mentality Naim stayed composed.
Mallory added: To win a match or a fixture against another country is a huge accomplishment for any player. I am proud of Naims achievement, not only because he won it for Bermuda, but the way in which he won; overcoming the elements and fighting back from the brink of defeat in his first Davis Cup match.
Rather than keep all the credit to himself, Azhar heaped praise on his team-mates and coach Mallory for helping him to realise a dream.
Without the support of the team and some crucial advice from coach Mallory this special moment would not have been possible, he said.
Despite Azhars heroics Bermuda slumped to a 2-1 defeat against Panama who are ranked 14 places above the Island in the ITF Davis Cup nations rankings.
Bermuda are currently ranked 123rd along with Yemen.
Bermuda also lost their round robin matches against Costa Rica (2-1) and Bahamas (3-0) which dashed any hopes of promotion to Americas Group II.
Bermuda are due to play Honduras in their final group match today.
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