Both Ramkumar Ramanathan and Yuki Bhambri were on song from the first point of their respective matches. Ramkumar, India’s No.1 singles player, unleashed his big serve and skillful serve-and-volley game that his opponent Christian Sigsgaard had no answer to.
Ram, ranked 170 in the ATP rankings, didn’t even require to go full throttle in his 6-3, 6-2 demolition of Sigsgaard (ranked 824) in just 59 minutes. If Ram brought 70 percent of his top game, the rest of it was done by the 1,500-odd crowd present at the Gymkhana. They egged on the 6-foot-2 Indian whenever there was a crunch moment.
Ram’s serve was a big weapon for him, as he didn’t face a single break point during the match. Besides his strong serve, whenever Ram charged to the net his opponent had no answer. Sigsgaard was too error-prone, committing several double faults during the match. The Dane also netted many of his returns, and was woefully outplayed.
Ram finished the match with an ace in the eighth game of the second set.
“I served pretty well, I was sharp. The team and fan support also made the big difference. I just had to stay with the ball and make returns. A few free points also did the trick,” the 27-year-old India said at the post match press conference.
India’s non-playing captain Rohit Rajpal was also happy with Ram’s performance. “Ramkumar played with confidence. He was sharp throughout. The idea was to keep it low and trouble the Danes,” he said.
After Ramkumar’s thorough professional performance, Yuki took to the court and was up against the higher-ranked Mikael Torpegaard. Bhambri, a former world junior No.1 and the winner of the 2009 Australian Open junior title, showed why he is regarded so highly in the Indian tennis circles as the Indian played the big points better to see off Mikael Torpegaard 6-4, 6-4 in an hour and 27 minutes.
Delhi-born Bhambri, ranked 590 in the ATP rankings now, was pushed by world No.305 Torpegaard. The 29-year-old was returning to the Davis Cup scene after 2017, having gone through a tough time in the last four years due to multiple injuries to his knee.
Yuki broke Torpegaard in the first game itself, but that didn’t demoralize the Dane. He got the break back in the fourth game. Yuke then broke his opponent decisively in the ninth game and served out the first set after saving two break points. In the second set, Yuki ran away to a 4-1 lead. At this stage, it seemed the Indian would cruise to the finish line, but Torpegaard raised his game and won three straight games to narrow down the contest to 5-4. Yuki ensured there was no more drama, serving out the match in the 10th game.
“In Davis Cup, it’s more about fighting than playing well. I fought well and hard. The match was always on my racquet, it was always in my control. It was just a matter of stringing a few points together,” Yuki said later.
After Yuki’s win, Rajpal said, “Yuki played at a high level. He was match sharp. We had planned to go up 2-0 and we managed to do that.”
Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan are slated to take the court for the doubles match against Frederik Nielsen – a Wimbledon men’s doubles champion in 2012 – and Johannes Ingildsen. If they win, India will keep their place in the World Group 1 and the reverse singles will be rendered inconsequential.