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World Group berth continues to elude India

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

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.