SAN JUAN, Argentina – Guido Pella met surprisingly stiff resistance from Daniel Elahi Galan, but pulled out a 3-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory on Friday to give Argentina a 2-0 lead over visiting Colombia in that Davis Cup World Group Playoff tie.
The 209th-ranked Galan battled back from a 4-1 deficit in the third set, winning five straight games to stun the world No. 62 and grab a two-set-to-one lead.
Pella played more aggressively in the final two sets, however, to seize full command of this indoor clay-court match at Aldo Cantoni Stadium in the western city of San Juan.
Earlier Friday, 14th-ranked Diego Schwartzman overcame a third-set hiccup to defeat Santiago Giraldo, a former top-30 player who is currently ranked No. 410, by the score of 6-3, 6-1, 6-7 (3), 6-1.
Argentina can clinch the tie with a win in Saturday’s doubles, when Maximo Gonzalez and Horacio Zeballos will take on the Colombian duo of Alejandro Gomez and Cristian Rodriguez.
If Colombia comes out on top, the tie will be decided by Sunday’s reverse singles.
The drastic overhaul of the Davis Cup format starting in 2019 means both Argentina and Colombia already have qualified for a 24-team qualifying event for the 2019 Davis Cup Finals, although the winner of this weekend’s tie will be seeded – and theoretically better positioned – in that February qualifying round.
For the first time in the long history of the Davis Cup, tennis’ premier international team event will not be played throughout the year in 2019 but instead consist of the qualifying round and an 18-team year-end Finals at a neutral site (initially in Madrid).
The Davis Cup final has traditionally been contested between just two teams (one of which hosted the tie) that made it through three previous rounds, but a drastic revamp was approved because of the irregular participation of tennis’ biggest stars.
In another key change, all matches in both the qualifying round and the Finals, scheduled for Nov. 18-24, 2019, will be reduced from best-of-five sets to best-of-three sets.