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World Group berth continues to elude India

sports Updated: Sep 21, 2008 23:06 IST

India’s dream of making the Davis Cup World Group was shattered after both Prakash Amritraj and Somdev Devvarman lost their reverse singles matches, giving Romania a 4-1 win in the play-off tie in Bucharest on Sunday.

With a 2-1 overnight advantage victory was assured when Romania’s Victor Hanescu defeated Prakash Amritraj, 6-2, 6-3, 6-1.

Devvarman looked on his way to his Davis Cup win but in a dramatic turnaround, Victor Crivoi won 10 games on the trot to clinch the second reverse singles 4-6, 7-5, 6-3.

Devvarman twice broke Crivoi, ranked 158, to shoot up for a 5-1 lead in the opening set. But the Indian, ranked 242, handed a double breakpoint to his rival who converted the first chance to try and make a comeback.

India thus goes back to the Asia/Oceania Group.

India were bidding for a place in the World Group for the first time since 1998.

They had given themselves a lifeline, after going 2-0 down on Friday, when Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes saw off Horia Tecau and Adrian Cruciat 6-4 7-6 (7/0) 6-4 in Saturday’s doubles.

“Disappointed? Yes but we’ll try again next year,” said Amritraj, a loser against Crivoi in the opening singles on Friday.

Hanescu dominated the match throughout on the clay in Bucharest, his home city.

The Romanian was never properly threatened; he only had three break points against him, converting six of his 14 break opportunities to seal the tie in one hour 40 minutes.

Amritraj, who committed 43 errors, said: “The plan was to attack and be more consistent than Friday. But when he got up, especially at home, he played a lot better.

“And on my break points, I wasn’t able to put pressure on him and played too defensive ... I realized I have a lot of things to work on clay. I’m gonna take time and probably prepare for the French Open next year.”

India had a chance to end their campaign on a positive note but nerves got the better of Devvarman as he fails to close out a winning position.

The US-based teenager, who led 5-4 in the second set, paid the price for sticking to the baseline as Crivoi used the drop shot effectively.