“It was a bad day in the office. But we still believe we can stage a comeback tomorrow. This is Davis Cup. And stranger things have happened here” – Mahesh Bhupathi, Captain, Indian Davis Cup Team
By – Vatsal Tolasaria, 1st February, 2019
Photo Credits – Surya Nandhan Raj(Instagram – sr28_sports)
It was a disappointing day for India’s top singles players, as they failed to make inroads against a much tougher Italian outfit. Ramkumar went down to veteran Andreas Seppi, whose most famous win came against the great Roger Federer at the 2015 Australian Open, while Prajnesh lost out to 22 year old Matteo Berrettini.
Ramkumar started off well, staying toe to toe with the experienced Italian, before serving two double faults at 4-4 in the first set. Seppi brought his immense experience to the fore post that, and there was no looking back for him thereafter, as he ran away with the match, breaking Ram’s serve twice in the 2nd set. It got really difficult for Ram to look after his service games once Seppi started to get a read on his serves.
On the other hand, Prajnesh had a slow start and could never really recover from it, despite showing immense heart against the talented young Italian. Prajnesh got broken in the very first game, courtesy some breathtaking strokes from Berrettini. Berrettini had a fabulous serving day, constantly breaching the 220 km/h barrier. He also used his humongous forehand to great effect, converting as much as he could, to put the Indian southpaw on the back foot in the baseline rallies.
On being asked what went wrong, Prajnesh said “I started the match badly, losing serve in the first game in both sets. He’s a good frontrunner, with a big big serve, which he used to his advantage. He played much more aggressively than me, which worked well for him”.
Bhupathi’s thoughts on today and plans for tomorrow –
We had half a chance in the first set of the first match at 3-4 30-40, but we didn’t take it. I’m a firm believer of the fact that if you take your chances, you’ll get rewarded, especially against players of this calibre and experience. I think that’s where the momentum swung.
We’re all disappointed that we lost both the matches, but tomorrow is a live day, and we will take it one match a time. We’ve done it against China. The Italians are obviously are a much better side, but we are not ruling ourselves out. We’ll look to win the doubles first, and then chip away one by one, and see what happens. In the last 15 years, India has been down 2-0 many times, and we have successfully come back against Brazil and China. So we have been there, done that. We can surely do it tomorrow as well, and it’s upto us to see if we can do it. This is Davis Cup and stranger things have happened here.
[R1] Ramkumar Ramanathan (IND,133) lost to Andreas Seppi (ITA,37) 4-6 2-6
[R2] Prajnesh Gunneswaran (IND,102) lost to Matteo Berrettini (ITA,53) 4-6 3-6