DUBAI // The UAE will be battling to keep their place in Group III of the Davis Cup Asia/Oceania region over the next two days after failing to make it to the promotion play-offs from their group.
Starting their Pool B engagements with a 2-1 win over Pacific Oceania on Wednesday, they lost to Cambodia on Thursday night and then Vietnam on Friday to finish third in their group.
The top two from the pool, Vietnam and Cambodia, head into the four-team promotion play-off along with the top two from Pool A.
The top-two finishers from the playoffs will receive a promotion to Group II of the Davis Asia/Oceania region.
The UAE will play the bottom two teams from Pool B in the relegation play-off that decides the two teams that will stay in Group III and the two that will go down to Group IV.
The hosts need to win only one of their two ties in the relegation play-offs, as their result against Pacific Oceania, the other Pool B team in the relegation play-offs, will be carried forward.
The UAE had their chances of making it to the promotion play-offs, against both Cambodia and Vietnam, but could not take advantage of their opportunities. In the opening match against Vietnam, Hamad Al Janahi raced to a 4-1 lead in the first set against Hoang Thien Nguyen, then lost six games in a row.
In the second, he was down 5-2 and staged a late comeback, but eventually lost 6-4, 6-4.
In the second match, the UAE’s Omar Al Awadhy, struggling with a side strain, fought back from a 3-0 deficit to nudge ahead and was serving for the set at 6-5, but was broken by Minh Quan Do and lost the tiebreak, 7-5.
In the second set, which saw seven service breaks, the Vietnamese dropped his serve at 5-3, but eventually closed out the match, 7-5.
The UAE players had a bigger letdown against Cambodia.
They had a 1-0 lead after Panhara Mam retired with severe cramps, while trailing Al Janahi. After winning the first set, Al Awadhy was comfortably leading 4-2 in the second set against Kenny Bun, but he lost 10 of the next 13 games and Cambodia levelled the match.
In the deciding doubles, Al Awadhy and Al Janahi were up 4-0 in the second set after losing the first 6-3, but the Cambodian pair of Bun and Phalkun Mam fought back to force a tiebreaker and took the clinching set.
“These things happen in tennis,” said Mahmoud Khalifa Al Baloushi, the UAE captain.
“We played some great tennis against Pacific Oceania, but against Cambodia, nothing seemed to be going right for us.”