Indian pair of Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan saved three match points to register a hard-fought win against the Denmark’s Frederik Nielsen and Mikael Torpegaard 6-7 (3-7), 6-4, 7-6 (7-4) in an intense doubles match of the Davis Cup World Group 1 Playoff at the Delhi Gymkhana Club here on Saturday.
In the inconsequential fourth match, India’s ace tennis player Ramkumar Ramanathan, came back strongly after conceding the first set against the lowly-ranked Johannes Ingildsen, notching up a well deserved 5-7, 7-5, 10-7 victory to make it 4-0 in favour of the hosts.
On March 4, Ramkumar Ramanathan and Yuki Bhambri had given the hosts a comprehensive 2-0 lead defeating Christian Sigsgaard and Mikael Torpegaard, respectively.
The 4-0 comprehensive win ensured India a place in the World Group I for the 2022 season, while Denmark will now again go back to World Group II.
World No. 32 in doubles Bopanna showed why he is the best doubles player in the country. He rose to the occasion when it mattered the most, grabbing crucial points with his drop shots on the net. However, world No. 142 in doubles, Divij looked a little shaky in the beginning but later got into the rhythm inspired by his partner. The 35-year-old Divij played well in the third set and took the attack to the opposition.
Earlier, Bopanna started the proceedings with three aces in the first game of the match. The winner of Adelaide doubles titles in 2022, served with ease, capturing points against the lower-ranked Denmark players. At the same time, Denmark too held their serves with some powerful backhand strokes from the baseline.
World No. 98 in doubles, Nielsen showed his class on the net, almost thwarting Bopanna’s attacking play and ensured the Indians had to fight for every point in the first set. However, the most experienced player in the Indian team, Bopanna with his agility, athleticism and reflexes on the net did not let Denmark off the hook.
It was the moment of the match when two old rivals, Bopanna and Nielsen engaged in a fierce battle on the net, in which Bopanna emerged victorious and levelled the score 6-6. However, all his hard work went in vain when India lost the first set in the tie-breaker 7-6 (7-3).
In the second set, Bopanna, who won the men’s doubles title at the Countrywide Classic in Los Angeles with partner Eric Butorac of America in 2008, and Divij at the same time broke Torpegaard and Nielsen’s service at regular intervals taking a 5-2 lead. After that, the Indian duo did not give much chance to Denmark’s pair and took the set 6-4.
In the third set, when the score was 2-2, India had the advantage to break Nielsen’s serve, but Divij’s backhand cross shot went wide.
In the next game, the 42-year-old Bopanna, who was at his best with volley and drop shots on the net, made it 3-3 with an ace. It was a fierce battle between the two teams when the scoreline read 5-4.
Bopanna, who suddenly became more attacking on the net, held his serve but Nielsen made it 6-5 in the next game.
Edge of the seat action began in the 12th game when the Bopanna-Divij pair saved three match points and stretched the third set too into the tie-breaker.
Nielsen, the senior-most player in the Denmark side, made double faulted at 1-2 and then made a backhand into the net. It gave India a 4-1 lead which proved enough for hosts to seal the set and match.