Ranking does not mean a thing in Davis Cup – maybe no tennis national team knows that golden rule better than ours. The Amritrajs, Ramesh Krishnan, Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi and many more have created sports glory in the past by memorable performances in this competition. In recent past, however, some opponents also played above their expected level, proud for their country, and gave India sorrowful losses. Would the first day in Lillehammer at the 2022 Davis Cup tie create memories – or would the results be rather as expected? Especially, could Casper Ruud fulfill the expectations and be at least dominant in singles for Norway? Hakons Hall, the 1994 Olympic Venue, gave the answer – and the answer was unfortunate for our team: like a year ago in Finland, India is trailing 0-2 after the first day in Scandinavia.
Match coverage together with Flyctory.com, which is covering the tie in parallel. There are more pictures of the matches on that website
Casper Ruud – Prajnesh Gunneswaran 6-1 6-4
The first set score reads like the Nordic rolling over Prajnesh, but our guy gave the hosts actually a good fight. The most characteristic game of the match was likely the fourth one, when Prajnesh was 30-15 in the lead at own serve, but three close calls (two times close shots by him which just did not touch the line in contrast to the final Ruud shot) gave three straight points for Ruud in a row. The first set had some nice rallies, especially in the beginning, when Prajnesh felt even to be able to cause some trouble at Ruud’s serve. Finally, two aces at the score of 5-0 for Casper Ruud prevented to start the tie with a bagel score – which would have been absolutely undeserved after a not that bad set anyway.
Prajnesh started to serve in the second set – and that felt to work out much better. At Ruud’s first serve of the second, a high but sufficiently precise volley stop saved the Norwegian from an uncomfortable situation. Furthermore, Casper took advantage of a short weak point in the Indian’s game the serve thereafter. Again, the close calls were significantly in favor of the host nation – maybe one of these things which just happen when you are world #2. Prajnesh gave a great fight. There was absolutely no trouble at own serve. However, the some 2,000 people home crowd did not have too many reasons to become nervous as well. Being at serve at the second set score of 5-4, Casper Ruud converted his first match point to give the lead for Norway.
Viktor Durasovic – Ramkumar Ramanathan 6-1 6-4
When our player takes the pee break after a rather short first set, that just can mean that India was in trouble in this one. The match started rather well for Ramkumar, who even lead 0-30 in the first game at Durasovic’s serve. The Trondheim-born Norwegian was finally perfectly prepared for the offensive style of Ramkumar. Hardly any serve and volley attack gave a happy ending for the Indian team. The fourth game, in which Ramkumar had several chances to tie the score to 2-2, was finally the one which made the crowd cheer loudly for the very first time on this evening. Durasovic took the break and dominated the match thereafter. Just after 30 minutes, Norway took the first set in this second rubber.
The second set was a very balanced set with versatile tennis strategies. From serve and volley to slice ralleys- Ramkumar and Durasovic gave the fans an enjoyable time. Durasovic made the Norwegians smile in the third game of the match, when he finally broke Ramkumar after a long game. The circumstances were weird with people shouting during a long point and the venue host suddenly crossing the court when India faced the deciding break point. Ramkumar just struggled with this situation more than needed. Especially in the fifth game, India had the chance to come back, but Durasovic had the answer to any critical situation this evening. The last games of the match went straight for the respective server, so that the Norwegians finished the day in happiness. For the tennis miracle, India first of all has to take its role as favorites in doubles tomorrow, before Rohit Rajpal’s team has to win both singles thereafter to avoid loosing the tie.
The official opening ceremony was taken before the two singles matches. Here are some impressions: