Mahesh Bhupathi after Davis Cup defeat: Rome not built in a day

Updated: Feb 03, 2019, 11:40 IST | Kashinath Bhattacharjee

Reacting to the 1-3 defeat in the qualifier tie, India's non-playing captain Mahesh Bhupathi said: "It is frustrating for the whole team. Before the tie, we believed we had a chance."

Mahesh Bhupathi after Davis Cup defeat: Rome not built in a day
Divij Sharan (left) returns while his partner Rohan Bopanna looks on during their Davis Cup clash against Italy on Saturday. Pic/PTI

Brilliant comeback from Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan in the doubles gave India a much-needed point on Saturday morning when they beat the Italian pair of Simone Bolelli-Matteo Berrettini 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in 103 minutes.

The joy, however, barely lasted half an hour when Prajnesh Gunneswaran lost the first set 1-6 to experienced Andreas Seppi in the first of the return singles. Seppi clinically finished the tie, winning the second set 6-4 and earning Italy a place in the Davis Cup World Finals, to be held at Madrid in November.

Reacting to the 1-3 defeat in the qualifier tie, India's non-playing captain Mahesh Bhupathi said: "It is frustrating for the whole team. Before the tie, we believed we had a chance. But to do so, we needed to win at least a match on the first day which we could not. And to be back from 0-2 down against a strong team like Italy, is monumental."

India will be back to the zonal qualifiers now. "Rome was not built in a day. We should respect Italy as they were too ahead of us in every department. We have three guys who are playing regularly and growing, something we never had for long. The government should come forward with some schemes to support tennis as well, like other sports. The bottomline is, the singles-playing boys need it more," said Bhupathi.

A lot was expected from left-handed Gunneswaran, India's No. 1, but the four sets he played in two matches, failed to hold his serve thrice in the first three games. "He [Seppi] played really well under pressure. I could not find my way back. I tried different things, but that was not enough," he said.

For Bopanna, who has been in the Davis Cup squad since 2002, it was his 10th win, whereas Divij had his second win in as many doubles matches. Divij was playing his second match after 2012.

"It was a must-win match for India. But it helps when you have Rohan by your side and Mahesh as captain of the team. They made things comfortable for me," said Divij. Bopanna said that there was no special strategy before the match except to play their natural game. "We needed to return well and fight for each point, which we did," he said.

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