India faced relegation to the Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Zone after Somdev Devvarman and Rohan Bopanna lost their singles rubbers, handing Japan a 2-0 lead on the opening day of the World Group play-off tie i Tokyo on Friday. Somdev, ranked 65th, suffered an unexpected 3-6, 4-6, 5-7 defeat against Yuichi Sugita, who is placed 110 places below the Indian. The visitors never recovered from the shock of the opening singles rubber, which lasted two hours and 32 minutes.
India needed an exceptional performance from Bopanna to come back into the tie but the Indian was no match to the supremely talented Kei Nishikori.
World No. 55 Nishikori showed his superiority by disbanding Bopanna’s challenge 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 in the second singles, which was over in just one hour and 37 minutes.
India now face the daunting task of winning the remaining rubbers over the next two days if they have to stay in the elite 16-nation World Group.
Japan, on the other hand, have very strong chance to advance to World Group after a long gap of 26 years.
After the first day debacle, it will be interesting to see which pair Indian captain SP Misra chooses to play in the do-or-die doubles rubber on Saturday as a defeat would end India’s chances.
Somdev, who has been India's hero in the Davis Cup for quite some time now, fell to a charged up Sugita, egged on by the home crowd.
Spain take 2-0 lead
Cordoba: Rafael Nadal cast off fatigue and his US Open final loss to Novak Djokovic to thrash Richard Gasquet 6-3, 6-0, 6-1 in Friday's opening rubber of the Davis Cup semi-final as Spain took a 2-0 lead over France.
David Ferrer then defeated Gilles Simon 6-1, 6-4, 6-1 to leave four-times champions Spain needing just a win in Saturday's doubles at the Cordoba bullring to ensure their place in the final.
In lopsided contests, Nadal blitzed Gasquet and Ferrer destroyed Simon.