New Delhi: Somdev Wins Davis Cup Tie for India


New Delhi, Mar 9: The task: To beat world No. 59 on his own turf. Result: 6-1, 6-2, 6-3. India's Somdev Devvarman reacts during his Davis Cup match.

Normally that scoreline would be what a highly-ranked opponent would’ve inflicted on an optimistic but helpless Indian Davis Cup player playing away from home but on Sunday, Somdev Devvarman, ranked 150, reduced Lu Yen-Hsun to an error-stricken man.

Thanks to Devvarman’s growing prowess with the racquet and rising confidence, India beat Chinese Taipei 3-2 - Rohan Bopanna lost the inconsequential final tie to Yang Tsung-hua 3-6, 7-6 (6), 6-7(5) - in the second round Asia-Oceania Group I tie. He thus set up an interesting third-round clash with Australia, once Davis Cup superpower.

Lu, numero uno in Asia, was no pushover but Devvarman played cleverly, with a well-thought plan to win with ridiculous ease at 6-1, 6-2, 6-3. With both players preferring to stick to the baseline, the match saw long rallies, a pattern of play that Devvarman is most comfortable with.

He wore Lu down by returning every ball. No matter which corner Lu hit the ball to, Devvarman was there. Lu’s problems didn’t end there. The unforced errors count started climbing dangerously for Lu and soon skyrocketed as he erred at crucial points in the match, giving Devvarman and India the lead.

Devvarman was himself a bit surprised at the way the match went but from his game it’s clear that the 23-year-old has learnt what exactly is needed to win Davis Cup matches.

"I probably didn’t expect to win this easily but the way I played today does justify the scoreline. Lu was under tremendous pressure to win and I took advantage of that and made his task that much more difficult with my play," Devvarman told TOI.

Coming five months after his disappointing performance in the World Group playoff tie against Romania last year, his position as Indian tennis’ big hope has only been strengthened by Sunday’s exploit.

"I was disappointed after the Romanian tie, but that loss made me even more hungry. I was determined to win for my country in this tie. I prepared diligently everyday and I am happy to have fulfilled one of my childhood dreams - winning for India."

Non-playing captain SP Misra was effusive in his praise for the Indian No. 1. "This was one of the best Davis Cup ties I have seen in the recent times. It was a good gameplan. The idea was to play Lu in long and high rallies and it paid off. Playing against the crowd favourite and the number one player of the hosts and that too in a live tie is not easy. We expected Somdev to fight hard but never though it would win so easy," he said.

For a team that has in the recent past struggled to get along and win, Devvarman’s success and presence seems to have had a galvanising effect. "It’s been an incredible week. We all worked hard and bonded as a team. My teammates really helped me play the way I did and this was a total team effort," Devvarman said.

Next up are Australia who overcame the surprise defeat of Lleyton Hewitt to overcome a determined Thailand 3-2. The India-Australia will be held from 8-10 May in India. AITA will soon take a decision on whether the tie will be held on hardcourt or grass. For Devvarman, the road will just get tougher because he has raised expectations again. But he is unfazed.

"Pressure is everywhere. I only concentrate on things that are under my control - hard work, hard work and more hard work. The rest just takes care of itself." 


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Title: New Delhi: Somdev Wins Davis Cup Tie for India

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