Indonesia’s earnestness that they had a chance to take Yuki Bhambri out and finish the day on level terms seemed delusional at the end. Given their meagre resources, the visitors were always going to be on the back foot, but the Indians were unforgiving.
Somdev Devvarman dealt with newbie Wishnu Adi Nugroho 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 while Yuki cut down the challenge of Indonesia’s top player Christopher Rungkat with his strong ground strokes to win 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 and give the hosts a 2-0 lead in the Davis Cup Asia Oceania relegation play-off tie on Friday.
“I was confident going into the match against Yuki,” reasoned Rungkat, who was blown off in an hour and 53 minutes. “I have played against him lot of times and knew I could take him down. But he was too good in every aspect; I think he played his best match today.”
While India’s non-playing captain, Shiv Prakash Misra, concurred with Rungkat, Yuki was not going to give in easily. Asked if this was his best performance, Yuki replied, “Maybe, of the season.”
It was the same confidence, bordering on arrogance, with which he took to the court. Rungkat, ranked 28 places above Yuki in the ATP charts, was supposedly Indonesia's only weapon and chance to win a point in this tie.
Though the 23-year-old began strongly, he couldn’t keep up with the constant quality of play from the back of the court that Yuki mustered.
Not strong enough
The only stumble came at the end of the first and second sets, when he was on the verge of serving them out. But Rungkat didn’t prove strong enough to wrest back the advantage.
Devvarman hardly broke sweat as he clinically took apart his 1774-ranked opponent, and the big positive for India is that their Davis Cup spearhead is looking sharp, maybe sharper than ever.
The serve, Devvarman, admitted has never been better, and the work he put into it after the forced lay-off due to a shoulder injury and the off-season, is reaping in the rewards. He has already jumped more than 300 places since the beginning of the year.
With a commanding lead on the opening day, India are in a position to seal the tie on Saturday when Leander Paes and Sanam Singh go up against Elbert Sie and David Agung Susanto.
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