Ramkumar Ramanathan overwhelmed lowly ranked Christian Sigsgaard while Yuki Bhambri accounted for higher-ranked Mikael Torpegaard in straight sets as India took a commanding 2-0 lead over Denmark in the Davis Cup World Group Playoff 1 tie, at Delhi Gymkhana Club here on Friday.
Playing on grass courts has worked well for the hosts as the visitors had trouble in tackling the low bounces. India is now one match away from keeping their place in the World Group.
World number 170 Ramkumar Ramanathan gave the hosts the first point of the tie as he outplayed 824 ranked Sigsgaard 6-3, 6-2 in a totally lopsided contest.
In the second singles World number 590, Bhambri fully capitalized the grass-court advantage as he handed 305th-ranked Torpegaard a 6-4, 6-4 defeat to give India a 2-0 lead.
Ramkumar gave the hosts the start they needed. He wasted no time as he broke his 24-year-old opponent without much resistance and collected points with ease.
Christian was clueless on the grass-court which played fast. Time and again he failed to negotiate Ramkumar’s passing shots or cross-court volleys.
The Indian raced to a 5-2 lead in no time and claimed the set with a superb backhand stroke.
In the second set, Christian tried to fight back and held serve, but Ramkumar broke him in the third game and after that, he broke. The Dane’s serve twice and completely took control of the match.
Christian tried to stay put in the game but Ramkumar did not conceded him any quarter and clinched the set and the match set with an ace.
Bhambri made a mockery of the ranking as he outlasted Torpegaard without much ado.
The Indian thrilled the partisan crowd with some powerful groundstrokes as the 305th-ranked struggled to negotiate the pace and bounce of the courts.
Both held their serves to start with (3-3) then Bhambri broke his rival in the seventh (4-3) but surprisingly failed to defend his own next serve. The 27-year-old Dane broke the Indian to make it 4-4.
Bhambri raised his game and broke the Dane’s service (5-4) In the next game, he did not give any points to his rival and sealed the set with a slice at the net.
In the second Bhambri dominated error-prone Torpegaard with his ‘slice and touch’ skills on the net. the Dane committed two double faults but managed to save two match points This game of the second set was the well-fought game of the day as it featured as many as five deuce points.
The Indian broke his rival in the fourth game and for a brief period both the players produced engrossing tennis. Bhambri broke his rival one more time — in the ninth game — the 10th, ended with Torpegaard’s double fault and Indian made it 2-0.
Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan will take the court for the doubles match against Frederik Nielsen and Johannes Ingildsen. If they win, India will keep their place in the World Group I and the reverse singles will be rendered inconsequential.
“I am happy I gave India the first point,” Ramkumar said after his win. “Tried making as many returns on grass court and happy it paid off well.”
“I took my time but tried to play with the first serve,” he added.
Bhambri said Ram’s first point was a good booster, I was confident of performing well.
He admitted that Grass court played fast and was helpful.
Non-playing captain, Rohit Rajpal, expressed happiness over the way both Ramkumar and Yuki executed the plans and returned to the dugout victorious. “Ramkumar was quite sharp with a lot of serve and volley game on display. Yuki had the tight first set and, when it mattered the most, he upped his game and put India ahead 2-0. Today’s result speaks volume of the kind of quality players we have in our squad.
“We had a clear strategy going into the tie, as the surface was low on bounce. If you look at the grips, it was a hard court grip. Ramkumar and Yuki did well to keep the ball low,” the captain added.
Denmark’s captain, Frederik Nielsen, sounded optimistic about his team’s chances with the doubles scheduled on Saturday.
“We are not under pressure, it’s just that we need to win the doubles tomorrow. If we don’t, we are out! It’s as simple as that. Our doubles team is primarily made up of college boys and Indians are, of course, very strong in this part of the game. India played traditional grass court style of tennis today. Congratulations to them.”