The experience of having rubbed shoulders with the crème de la creme of world tennis at the London Olympics recently, has augured well for India’s Vishnu Vardhan.
The 25-year-old Bangalorean, who partnered Leander Paes in the doubles event at the Games recently, stole the show on Day Two of the three-day Davis Cup Asia-Oceania Zone group I clash against New Zealand in Chandigarh on Saturday. Vardhan won both his singles as well doubles rubbers in fine style.
After 20-year-old Yuki Bhambri (World No 179) rallied to win the opening singles tie against Daniel King-Turner (No 382) 3-6, 0-6, 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 on Friday for a 1-0 lead, the baton was passed on to Vishnu, who helped India race to the finish line with a day in hand.
Vishnu first took court for the continuation of his singles match against Kiwi No 1 Jose Statham (No 298) that was stopped on Friday due to fading light with the score reading 6-2, 6-7(5), 6-4 in his favour. The World No 262 needed just 31 minutes to wrap up things up, winning the fourth set 6-2 and doubling India’s lead. Moments later, he stepped on court once again, this time with partner Divij Sharan (doubles World No 94) to beat Michael Venus and Daniel King-Turner 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-3 to ensure India will stay in the Asia-Oceania Group in the 2013 season with the opportunity of re-entering the elite 16-team World Group.
The Indian Davis Cup team lacked in experience with Paes not playing, Somdev Devvarman out injured and both Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna axed from the team following their refusal to partner Paes at the Olympics. But the four-member side — Bhambri, Vardhan, Divij and Sanam Singh were never short of confidence.
In fact, they even planned their success to perfection. “When Yuki got Daniel and I was pitted against Statham in the draw, our captain SP (Misra) sir, coach Nandan (Bal) sir and team doctor Vece (Paes) sir believed we had the upper hand. We were confident of winning both our singles rubbers. I was sure of delivering a win in the doubles too,” Vardhan told SUNDAY MiD DAY after winning his doubles tie at the Chandigarh Lawn Tennis Association courts.
“Yuki didn’t have it easy first-up. But that didn’t rattle us. In fact, seeing him fight back in that fashion gave me the confidence that I could rally too, if things didn’t go in my favour earlier on in the match. Thankfully, it all panned out as per plan,” said Vardhan. The Kiwis may have been ranked lower than the Indians, but they were rich in Davis Cup experience having played nearly 70 matches between them before this. “They (NZ) even made statements claiming they would take us down as our big names were missing. This really spurred us on too,” said Vardhan.
Finally, the young Indians were happy to hear from their heroes — Paes and Bhupathi, who promptly sent across congratulatory messages. “Leander sent a message through our trainer Sanjay Singh while Mahesh wished us well on Twitter. It’s really encouraging to see them come out and support us. They are legends and it will be great if can strive to achieve even half of what they have,” Vardhan signed off.