After Prajnesh’s unexpected loss, the pressure was on the Indian team instead of Finland, as expected. Ramkumar Ramanathan was in the clear underdog role again Emil Ruusuvuori, the Scandinavians’ sharpest weapon in this national tennis battle. At the end, the crowd saw a memorable match, which felt to be just made for a best-of-five match – and a very close two-set victory for the home team.
Emil Ruusuvuori – Ramkumar Ramanathan 6-4 7-5
The match started with a hint that this evening could be special: Ruusuvuori served first – and faced two break points. Ramkumar coverted and India was in the lead. Even though the Finnish corrected this “accident” right at India’s first time serving, the tennis was amazing. Especially Ramkumar Ramanathan showed a huge variety of strategies – like using a lot of slice shots in rallies and even doing Serve & Volley and Chip & Charge attacks. Ruusuvuori felt to be just a little bit better over most parts of the match, but also he showed that modern tennis does not only need to be a battle of hard, flat top-spin shots. Even though the first set felt to be a bit of straighter than the second one, the people in Espoo Metro Areena saw some really entertaining rallies with a huge variety of different plays. So unfortunate that when Ramkumar came under pressure towards the end of the set, he could not keep his great level of play. In the tenth game, the host player broke the Indian’s serve and by that secured the first set right when the crowds started to get really nervous.
The second set was even more of a battle – and here and there, the home crowd just could not do other than cheering for some beautiful points by the courageous Indian. Again, it was just beautiful-to-watch tennis. Regardless if that was about the talent of both players or about the special characteristics of the court – there were only two really bad things about second set: First of all, that it was already a potentially deciding one. This second rubber between Finland and India just was made for an epic best-of-five match. Secondly, Ramkumar just became a little bit too weak in the deciding game of the set: at own serve in an epic game, he save one match point at 30:40 already – but then gave Ruuusuvuori another chance with a double fault. Finally, Ruusuvuori is too strong – and too talented. He converted this one and just made it over the finish line. You could see the huge respect both players had for each other after this battle.
With that score, India trails 0-2. The doubles as the first match on Saturday needs to give some initial comfort for a comeback. The potential second match would be India’s second try to beat Finland’s Number One in singles, Ruusuvuori, like on behalf of Prajnesh Gunneswaran. A battle of the second players of each Nation would be the potential showdown – and could be a really interesting one. Needless to say, though, that Finland is absolutely on the driver’s seat now. Especially beating Ruusuvouri in the fourth rubber would be a huge upset.
Pictures have been provided by Flyctory.com. Please refer to my posting there for a 552 picture gallery of the Day 1 matches.