Prajnesh Gunneswaran was the first one to represent the Indian colors at the World Group I Playoff tie between Finland and India in Espoo. The hosts partied an unexpected victory of their second player against India’s Number One.
Opening Ceremony & Fans
Despite the limited advertisement for the tie, Finland could rely on a quite impressive crowd. At Friday, 18:00 hrs local time, some 2,000 fans supported their country and gave their team a nice comfortable atmosphere. Some Indian fans, mainly Finland residents, were in the arena and cheered for our team, where necessary. A surprisingly nice setting for a Davis Cup tie under pandemic conditions. Below are also some impressions of the opening ceremony.
Otto Virtanen – Prajnesh Gunneswaran 6-3 7-6(1)
Singles-ranked #419 Otto Virtanen had an easy day in the first singles against Prajnesh, who is ranked more than 200 spots in front of the Finnish second singles player. Otto Virtanen played with virtue – and quite some luck in the deciding points. The close ones went majorly in favour of the hosting team. Virtanen felt to be very comfortable on the turf Jarkko Nieminen selected – the Finnish Davis Cup legend obviously chose the right strategy for Espoo 2021. Especially with surprising lobs and in long rallyes, Virtanen forced Prajnesh to mistakes too often. In the first set, Prajnesh lost his serve at 2-3 down, facing three break points against him. Overall, he felt to be more vulnerable in this first set. Even though this was the only break of the set (and of the match), Virtanen played very solid and went straight into the major intermission.
The second set was much more leveled – a battle at even strength. Even the experience of 32-year old Prajnesh Gunneswaran could not pay out when Virtanen felt to give more opportunities to give India a tied set score. However, the most dramatic game was Prajnesh serving in the ninth game, when the Indians could defend five break points before they won the game. Prajnesh felt to have a chance to force this match into the third set – but Virtanen could stand all attacks. In tie-break, he played with confidence, while four unforced errors on the Indian side just were too much. 7-1 in the tie-breaker and by that 2-0 to love – Finland and Jarkko Nieminen deserved this lead absolutely – very unfortunately from our perspective.
Pictures have been provided by Flyctory.com. Please refer to my posting there for a 552 picture gallery of the Day 1 matches.