Throughout the week, the Indian camp – the players, the coaches and the staff recognised they were facing an uphill ask. After all they were facing five-time Davis Cup winners – Spain and to make matters worse, the Spanish armada had arrived with some serious muscle. The team selection surprised quite a few, given it was a Playoff against a team which was hurt by the absence of its top players. Moreover, it was a team that was far inferior than most of its players anyway and it was immediately following the US Open.
But then the objective was far too big – to get back to the World Group – to take things lightly.
And as Sunday night waltzed around, the job was complete and it was done so in convincing fashion. Rather, the job was done on Saturday night itself but Sunday gave a chance to pack it and bury it.
Spain had taken an unbeaten 3-0 lead after Rafa Nadal and Marc Lopez, the Olympics gold medallist, had beaten Leander Paes and Saketh Myneni in a marathon contest lasting over three hours.
On Sunday, Ramkumar Ramanthan’s 2-6, 2-6 loss to David Ferrer closed things out at the RK Khanna Stadium.
Before him, Sumit Nagal – making his Davis Cup debut – fought hard but couldn’t get the job done against Marc Lopez to lose 3-6, 6-1, 3-6.
And yet as the scoreline read 5-0 and the Spanish team beamed, there were thoughts of chances gone begging. And a lingering question of ‘what if?’.
Paes and Myneni had chances in the second set and the fourth set but both went begging. But then you wonder – as Paes did in the post match press conference – “What if we had won the second set? Things might have been really interesting” – and you have to agree.
WATCH: India lose 5-0 to Spain in Davis Cup
In Sumit’s match, even with the tie done, India were fighting to avoid a clean sweep. Sumit led 3-0 in the third and then fitness issues arose and it all came crashing down with six games in a row for Lopez.
However, the one person who had a pretty flawless weekend didn’t even get the attention he deserves. Ferrer bossed Myneni on Friday and then Ramkumar on Sunday. He only dropped eight games in the two matches and got the job done in two hours and 39 minutes.
At the end, as India go back into the locker room, there shouldn’t be head held low because the opponent wasn’t an easy one. There should be contemplation over how to get the job done when an opportunity comes in and one of satisfaction that allowed youngsters in 21-year-old Ramkumar to play a World No 13 Ferrer and for 19-year-old Sumit to get some top-level experience.