LIMA, Peru — Baker Newman controlled his match from the baseline and crafted a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Luis Miralles, of El Salvador, as the 18th Pan American Games got underway for Team Bahamas in Lima, Peru, on Monday morning.
At the Club Lawn Tennis venue, the 23-year-old gave The Bahamas a rolling start at the games. Going into the match, he admitted to a battle of nerves.
“This is the highest level of tennis I have played and yes, I’m nervous. I had some good pre-training here in Peru and things have gone well,” said Newman prior to taking on Miralles.
In the match he was an incredibly cool customer. The nervousness went obviously, and Miralles found himself on the defensive from the start. The El Salvador representative served first and was broken.
Newman executed an excellent lob winner after pushing the first game to deuce. Then, he held serve for a 2-0 lead with precision returns to the sidelines, deep, and the occasional drop shot.
Pretty much the pattern of the match was set. There was a mini lapse when he was broken, while serving at 3-0, but he did not lose his composure. He virtually cruised to the 6-2 first set win.
Set two was a repetition. Newman remained poised and comfortably ran off successive points on the way to the triumph. He expressed happiness over the result but gave his opponent credit.
“Miralles was a good opponent. Yes, the score was 2-2 (6-2 and 6-2) but I don’t place any emphasis on the games won. It could have been 5-5 (7-5 and 7-5). He was good, but everything came together for me. It is good to get this under my belt, but tomorrow is different,” he said.
Indeed another day makes for a bigger challenge. Today, he goes up against the No. 2 seed, Argentinian Guido Andreozzi.
Newman is also playing doubles with Justin Roberts. The two are to play Andreozzi and his partner Facundo Bagnis in round two. They got a bye into the second round.
Roberts also got on the court in singles yesterday and came out victorious, defeating the host country’s Sergio Galdos. He persevered and outlasted Galdos, of Peru, 6-7(5), 7-6(6) and 6-4, to advance.
The match lasted two hours and 40 minutes. For the first seven games of the first set, it looked like Roberts would quickly join his teammate Baker Newman in round two.
He was ahead 5-2 and then came a reversal of fortunes. Encouraged by a strong partisan crowd on Center Court at the Club Lawn Tennis venue, Galdos mounted a spirited comeback. He captured three consecutive games and ultimately pushed the set to a tiebreaker, and prevailed 7-6(5).
The momentum was definitely in his favor. He seemed destined to register a big win in front of the home folks. His supporters were optimistic. However, they were to see firsthand a special brand of resilience.
Roberts buckled down and fought Galdos for every point, got to another tiebreaker and won to even the match.
In the third set, he was simply steady while Galdos faltered. Winning his match point, Roberts gave a fist pump. Thrilled by the hard-fought match, Peru locals mobbed the Bahamian afterwards.
“He was at home with the fans cheering him on and I just lost focus. My game did not go away, I just didn’t focus the last part of the game,” said Roberts.
Roberts was a happy camper and was accommodating to the scores of adults and children who took pictures with him.
He said it was a great win, his most important to date.