Ramkumar Ramanathan and Prajnesh Gunneswaran gave India a 2-0 lead over Uzbekistan, warding off spirited challenges in their respective singles matches of the Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Zone Group 1 tie in Bengaluru on Friday.
Ramanathan beat Temur Ismailov 6-2, 5-7, 6-2, 7-5 in the first singles rubber while debutant Gunneswaran, ranked 187, outwitted Sanjar Fayzieb 7-5, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Earlier, the tie began with the Ramanathan vs Ismailov marathon match that lasted three hours and three minutes and seemed to take much out of the visiting Ismailov who was not used to the hot and humid Indian conditions.
Ismailov made short work to win the first game on serve easily but could not hold out later.
Ramanathan managed to put pressure on the Uzbek and an unforced error at 40-0 in the third game opened the doors for the Indian.
He broke Ismailov and took a 4-1 lead in the first set before the visitor fought back.
Ismailov managed to make it 5-2 but could not sustain his challenge and eventually lost the first set 6-2 after hitting the ball out of court.
Ramkumar Ramanathan wins his singles rubber to give India a 1-0 lead against Uzbekistan! Good recovery after a horror 2nd set! pic.twitter.com/8tmFCS7523— Prashant Paul (@PrashantSport) April 7, 2017
The visitor produced a much better challenge at the start of the second set and managed to take a 2-1 lead.
However, the set was neck-and-neck as both players fought hard, until Ismailov managed to win 7-5.
Ismailov appeared to labour through the third set as conditions and fatigue got to him despite taking a 2-1 lead. He required repeated medical attention to deal with cramps in his right leg.
Ramanathan tied the third set 2-2 while Ismailov hobbled with cramps. The Indian took the lead and went on to win the set 6-2.
Ismailov took a 2-1 lead in the fourth set before Ramanathan fought back and levelled the tie. It was even until 5-5 before Ramanathan managed to take the lead.
At match point, Ramanathan thought he had won it with an ace until the linesman called double fault.
Nevertheless, the Indian managed to finish off the hotly contested rubber after 183 minutes.
The doubles rubber will be played on Saturday. The winner of the tie will qualify for the World Group play-offs, to be played in September.