Awe-Som show keeps India afloat
On Friday, Somdev Devvarman had pulled off the biggest upset of his Davis Cup career, when he beat Janko Tipsarevic in 7-5, 7-5, 7-6 (3) and draw India level.
In the previous meetings between the two, Devvarman had not even been able to take a set off the Serb. "He has to start somewhere," India's non-playing captain SP Mishra had remarked on seeing the opening day draw.
And start he did. In front of Tipsarevic's home crowd, who had, since Rohan Bopanna's massive effort against Viktor Troicki banished pretensions of playing polite hosts to the Indian underdog.
"Every match for the country is important," Devvarman said after the match. "But to put a win on the board against defending champions in their own backyard is even more satisfying."
For most part of the match, that saw a total of 16 breaks of serve, the Indian was made to play catch up. Tipsarevic, having reached the final of the Delray Beach ATP tournament just last Sunday, carried little home advantage as he struggled to find his feet on a wooden court, in Novi Sad, rather than the team's Davis Cup base of the Belgrade sports arena.
Tipsarevic's game ebbed and flowed --- the Serb had been in the lead in all the three sets, even served for the third at 5-3 --- and Devvarman nailed him with belief and great court speed.
While the Indian is known to be a retriever, he was injecting those ground-strokes with some venom from time to time to catch Tipsarevic off-balance.
"I feel for Janko because he probably didn't have enough time to adjust from Delray Beach, where it was a lot warmer and that much easier to serve," Devvarman added. " I served well, kept fighting and always believed I could win the match."
A totally transformed Somdev was on the court. His defensive play was all too well known but not his vastly improved serve and an aggressive streak. He ran down everything and his aggression was palpable as he went for lines and corners from different angles to leave Tipsarevic shell-shocked.
He got out of difficult situations taking his opponent out of court with his angled serve, more potently when he banged them away to the deuce court and putting the winners away from Tipsarevic's reach.
He served 10 aces to the Serbs and hustled him by charging the net at crucial stages. Cumulatively, all these new weapons of Somdev left the Serb guessing.