Kiwis take 2-1 lead as India falter
World No. 10 Rohan Bopanna and Saketh Myneni suffered a shock straight set mauling at the hands of Artem Sitak and Marcus Daniell as India were left trailing 1-2 against New Zealand in the Asia/Oceania Davis Cup Group I tie, here on Saturday.
Bopanna, a Wimbledon semifinalist in doubles, and Myneni lost the crucial doubles rubber 3-6 6-7(1) 3-6 even as the hosts continued to surprise the Indians.
The last time an Indian team lost the doubles rubber in Davis Cup was in April 2012 when Bopanna and Leander Paes went down to Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin and Murad Inoyatov.
It is also the first defeat for Bopanna and Myneni as a team in Davis Cup as they had won their matches against Korea and Chinese Taipei.
Somdev Devvarman and Yuki Bhambri will now have to win both the reverse singles on Sunday if India are to advance to the World Group play-offs. It all depends on Somdev to keep hopes alive for India.
He faces Jose Statham and if he loses, India will have to fight it out with China to stay in Group I.
Yuki is set to clash with Michael Venus, with whom he had qualified for the Australian Open men’s doubles last year.
The big-serving Indians blinked first when Bopanna dropped his serve in the sixth game of the first set. It handed a 4-2 lead to the Kiwis and they served solid, eventually Sitak (world number 44 in doubles) closed the set in home team’s favour in the ninth game.
Bopanna and Myneni had little opening to get a break through in the fourth game of the second set but squandered both the break chances. Sitak and Daniell did not offer any chance to the Indians after that and it all boiled down to the tie breaker. The Kiwis logged one point after another and outplayed the Indians in the tie-breaker, racing to a 7-1 win comfortably.