After a dramatic opening day in the Davis Cup tie against Chinese Taipei, the Indian team was, as Yuki Bhambri put it, 'coming to terms' with their top player Somdev Devvarman being stretched to five sets and tied 7-7 with Ti Chen, when bad light stopped play on Friday.
Bhambri, reportedly, sent out a 'Keep Calm' message to his teammates this morning, hoping to settle the nerves that would have been frayed as the match spilled on to Saturday, especially since Devvarman had had four match points in the decider. Looks like the message hit home.
Devvarman took charge and sealed the win in eight minutes, taking the set 9-7. Then comeback man Rohan Bopanna and Cup debutant Saketh Myneni joined forces to win the doubles rubber 6-0 6-7(3) 6-3 7-6(2) over Tsung-Hua Yang and Hsien-Yin Peng to give the hosts an unassailable 3-0 lead in the Asia Oceania round one tie.
India will now play South Korea in April, in an away fixture, in the second round. The winner of that tie will get a shot at qualifying for the 16-member World Group.
On the attack
Having slugged it out for four and a half hours on Friday afternoon, Devvarman returned to the Indore Tennis Club hard courts on Saturday with a refreshed body and a fresh attitude.
"Good things have happened in the past when you get a result like this," said the Indian, who had lost in the first round of the Chennai Open and the Australian Open. "It is amazing what a little bit of confidence can do."
Confidence wasn't lacking in Myneni's game either. The Taipei pair had zoned in on the 26-year-old, playing his first match for India, as the 'weaker link'. But the rookie rarely cracked. "Rohan kept telling me to go for my shots," Myneni recalled later. "It was very tough on the last point; I was just happy that it kept in."
And then out went the 'Keep calm' mental banner as the team jumped onto the court for a heady round of celebrations.