Yuki Bhambri fought back from the brink of defeat to script a stunning five-set win over New Zealand’s Daniel King Turner and give India a 1-0 lead in the Davis Cup Asia Oceania Group I relegation play-off tie here today.
Conditions were gloomy when the match started after a 90-minute rain delay and Yuki’s fortunes looked no better as he stared at a humiliating defeat after being down by two sets.
However,the Indian turned it around dramatically to score a 3-6 0-6 6-2 6-4 6-2 win after battling it out for three hours and 15 minutes at the CLTA tennis stadium.
Vishnu Vardhan will now take on Kiwi number one Jose Statham in the second singles.
Yuki seemed in complete disarray to start with but the 20-year-old scripted a complete turnaround after being left humiliated in the second set.
The Indian slowed down the pace of the game by engaging his Kiwi rival in long rallies. The sting in the serve was back,errors were curtailed and most importantly Yuki snatched the momentum from Turner,whose patience ran out in the face of crowd favourite’s perseverance.
Successive breaks in game five and seven handed Yuki a 5-2 cushion,and he served out the third set after saving a breakpoint in the next game. Yuki broke the Kiwi player in the first game of the fourth set to gain the advantage. But Turner fought hard and even saved a breakpoint in the fifth game,which he closed with an ace.
However,an early break of serve put the Indian in the advantageous position and it stayed with him as the two players held their serves after that.
Yuki dictated the terms as he set up points easily by opening up the court and executed the winners with ease.
Turner tried drop shots but Yuki had the energy to reach out and put the ball back to his opponent.
He was up by two breaks — game one and seven,and served out the set and the match in the eighth game.
Earlier,Yuki struggled with his first serve. His left-knee was strapped and he was struggling to keep the ball in.
Turner,in contrast,had made a bright start with an ace.
Yuki had three break chances in the fourth game,but squandered all. However,the Kiwi did not return the favour when the Indian was facing a break in the seventh game.
Another forehand error by Yuki gave Turner a chance to go up and he accepted the chance with a overhead volley winner.