India's highest ranked singles player loses 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 3-6, 1-6 after taking two-set lead against Michael Venus; Yuki levels tie with 6-2, 6-1, 6-3 win over Jose Statham
Christchurch: Yuki Bhambri rescued India with an impressive win after 148th ranked Somdev Devvarman’s shock defeat, leaving the visitors locked 1-1 with New Zealand on Day 1 of the Davis Cup Asia Oceania Group I tie yesterday. Michael Venus, ranked as low as 548 in the singles, turned the tables on Somdev, who lost the opening singles 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 3-6, 1-6.
Somdev Devvarman of India returns the ball during his tennis singles match against New Zealand's Michael Venus during the Davis Cup world group playoffs at Wilding Park in Christchurch on July 17, 2015. Pic/AFP
The onus to bring India back was now on Yuki, who did not disappoint the Indian camp as he raced to a 6-2, 6-1, 6-3 win over Jose Statham in the second singles.
Tough day in office
Speaking about his defeat, Somdev said he did not play badly but his opponent was just too good. "Definitely, it was a tough day for me in the office. I started off really well, serving really well in the first two sets, I only faced one break point in the first two sets and after that the guy certainly played very good to be honest," Somdev said.
"There is whole lot of things that went wrong, I started talking to my teammates and captain about what happened out there. All in all, the guy really played well. There is nothing wrong in my game but he outplayed in the last few sets," Somdev added.
Somdev was all praise for teammate Yuki. "The good thing about today is that Yuki played a fantastic match and put us on the board, really took the fight to his opponent. (It was) some of the best tennis I have seen Yuki playing in such a tough situation after going down 0-1 in a Davis Cup match away from home," said Somdev about his teammate.
While admitting to being nervous, Yuki said that he could not have played better against Statham.
"Initially, I was nervous but I tried to stay focussed on my match and just gave it my best. It was a clinical performance. I could not have played any better," Yuki said.
"Getting early breaks in the first set helped as I could play freely. And winning the first set was the key," the 23-year-old Delhi lad added.
India coach Zeeshan Ali was also effusive in his praise for Yuki. "Yuki played flawless tennis. One of the best tennis I’ve seen him play. He’s been timing the ball beautifully the whole week and today was exceptional tennis from him," Zeeshan said.
The winner of the tie will qualify for the World Group Play-offs.