India's tennis association needs to explain why half-fit Somdev was part of Davis Cup action in Tokyo
It's a bitter Sayonara (goodbye) for India from the elite 16 and back into the Asia Oceania Group 1, while for Japan it's a big Konichiwa (hello) to the Davis Cup World Group after a barren 26 year-run. Japan won the lopsided play-off 4-1.
Injured: Somdev Devvarman reacts after losing a point to Japan's Yuichi Sugita in Tokyo on Friday. Pic/AFP
The celebrations will go on all night in the Japanese camp while the recriminations will begin for India. Why was a half-fit Somdev Devvarman persisted for the tie? The AITA needs to give answers to the Indian tennis fans. It was quite obvious that Somdev will not play in the first reverse singles, therefore it came as no surprise to see Vishnu Vardhan square up against the Japanese No 1 Kei Nishikori.
Twenty four-year-old Vardhan, who is ranked 456, and hails form Secunderabad showed tremendous character for one making his Davis Cup debut. His slice backhand had the 21-year-old Nishikori in knots in the first set. Vardhan served big and his second serve was quite impressive. He gave the highly ranked Japanese a run for his money in the first set.
Nishikori began dictating play moving his opponent around and using his open stanced topspin forehands to telling effect. The Indian appeared to tire in the third, but he didn't go out with a whimper as he saved four match points before the Japanese sealed the tie with an ace. The scores were 7-5 6-3 6-3. "I was not overawed by my opponent. I felt I played one of the best matches in my life. I made Nishikori (World No.55) sweat for victory," said the proud Indian.
'Fantastic honour' "It's a fantastic honour playing for the country and I have great respect for Misra Sir, Paes, Bhupathi, Somdev and Bopanna. I am sure with greater experience I will win laurels for India." India coach Nandan Bal evaded verbal bouncers with the felicity of an opening batsman. "We did not underestimate Japan. Look they have four players in the top 200, we knew they would be a tough nut to crack.
They outplayed us were by far the better team. It may have been a different story if we could have won a point on the first day,'' roared Bal. The silver lining is that India No 1 Somdev Devvarman's injury is not serious. "It's a Deltoid strain on his shoulder. Nothing serious, he should be ready to play in the Malaysian Open in Kuala Lumpur next week," stressed Bal.
For India, it is a time for introspection, they will need to think long and hard about team selections in the near future and will have to search for younger talent in the singles while also looking at the doubles as Paes and Bhupathi are growing older by the year. The fifth rubber was not played as Rohan Bopanna conceded his match to Yuichi Sugita.