In­dia, Canada test each other, share hon­ours

Hindustan Times ST (Jaipur) - - World - Press Trust of In­dia sports­desk@hin­dus­tan­times.com

Ramku­mar Ramanathan fetched the cru­cial win but Yuki Bham­bri made the day mem­o­rable even in de­feat as In­dia and Canada shared the hon­ours on day one of the Davis Cup World Group Play-off tie.

Yuki turned the match on its head af­ter be­ing down by two sets and a match point in the third set but even­tu­ally lost 6-7(2) 4-6 7-6(6) 6-4 1-6 to world No.51 De­nis Shapovalov -- an au­da­cious per­for­mance in a 3 hours and 52 min­utes bat­tle.

It hap­pened af­ter 22-year-old Ramku­mar, ranked 154th, tamed debu­tant Bray­den Sch­nur 5-7 7-6(4) 7-5 7-5 in the first sin­gles, which was also a marathon match last­ing three hours and 16 min­utes. “Boys played with a lot of heart...the plan was to fight re­gard­less of the score and Ram swung a los­ing bat­tle and Yuki al­most did too,” In­dian cap­tain Ma­hesh Bhu­pathi said. “The pres­sure re­mains on them. If we fight like this any­thing is pos­si­ble.”

This de­feat would ran­kle Yuki for some­time as Shapovalov had started feel­ing the heat fol­low­ing the In­dian’s per­se­ver­ance. The left-handed Shapovalov un­leashed his power-packed game from the be­gin­ning and Yuki was mostly left to de­fend but af­ter tak­ing the third set from the home favourite, it was the In­dian who dic­tated the terms. An early break in the fifth set again shifted the mo­men­tum in Shapovalov’s favour. The Canadian found his mojo af­ter break­ing Yuki in the third and broke him again in the sixth game to take a 5-1 cush­ion and clinched the is­sue with a crush­ing fore­hand win­ner.

Ear­lier, a dogged Ramku­mar Ramanathan bat­tled past a fight­ing Sch­nur to re­main un­beaten in the Davis Cup in the 2017 sea­son, hav­ing won all five matches he has played. A pow­er­ful serve was the most po­tent weapon for Ramku­mar but lack of pace in his strokes of­ten made him vul­ner­a­ble, of which Sch­nur took ad­van­tage many a times in the con­test.

Ramku­mar wrig­gled out of crunch sit­u­a­tions with his gritty serv­ing and saved as many as 15 of the 18 break­points which in­deed ti­tled the en­ergy-sap­ping match in his favour. More of­ten than not, the In­dian served wide and deep to the left of the Sch­nur, mak­ing the re­turns dif­fi­cult, which helped him open the court for easy win­ners.

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