The Indian Davis Cup team is staring at defeat at the zonal level for the first time in five years following shock defeats of Ramkumar Ramanathan and Sumit Nagal on the opening day of the second round tie against China today. India was without the service of Yuki Bhambri, who skipped the tie due to a minor abdomen injury. Ramanathan was expected to win against the lower ranked Yibing Wu but end up losing the first singles 6-7(4) 4-6.
The duty to bring India back in the tie was on young Sumit Nagal, but the world ranked 213 youngster lost 4-6 1-6 to Ze Zhang, ranked 247 in 67 minutes. India’s non-playing captain Mahesh Bhupathi described the opening day as “shocking”. “It was disappointing display by both. No hunger, no fight and no aggression,” Bhupathi told PTI.
India have managed to win a Davis Cup tie from being down 0-2 only once. It was in 2010 when India beat Brazil in Chennai with Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi winning the doubles and then Somdev Devvarman and Rohan Bopanna producing thrilling victories on the last day.
Paes and Bopanna will now play a do-or-die third rubber against Mao-Xin Gong and Di Wu tomorrow.
If Paes manage to eeke out a win, he will become the most successful doubles player in history of David Cup. He is tied on 42 wins with Italian great Nicola Pietrangeli. The last time India lost a tie at the Asia/Oceania level was in February 2013 when all the top players, led by Somdev, had boycotted the contest against Korea and the depleted Indian side lost 1-4 in New Delhi.
Since then, India have never lost a tie in the zonal competition, consistently reaching the World Group Play-off stage. However, they could not cross the final hurdle and lost to Serbia (2014), Czech Republic (2015), Spain (2016) and Canada (2017). The last time India competed in the elite 16-nation World Group was in 2011 when it lost to Serbia in an away first round tie.
Ramkumar Ramanathan will face Zhang Ze in fourth rubber, followed by Sumil Nagal facing Yibing Wu in fifth rubber.