He had copped a lot of criticism after losing the deciding fifth rubber against Serbia in the last tie but Yuki Bhambri redeemed himself by winning the deciding match on Sunday, which sealed India a place in the Davis Cup World Group play-offs.
The quality of his fifth-rubber opponents in the two ties — Filip Krajinovic (in September 2014) and Michael Venus — is debatable but one fact that cannot be ignored is that pressure of delivering in a live and deciding rubber is enormous and Yuki did it with aplomb.
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After all the hard work, India had levelled the Play-off tie against Serbia 2-2 and Yuki played the decisive tie but could not find a way to beat Krajinovic, by beating whom he could have taken India into the World Group.
On Sunday it was different as it was Yuki, who turned out to be a hero in India’s win against the Kiwis. He won his singles on day one when Somdev’s defeat put India under pressure and on Sunday he outclassed Venus.
He, obviously, is the toast of the Indian team. Senior players Somdev Devvarman and Rohan Bopanna paid glowing tributes to the 23-old-youngster, who was never broken in this tie against the Kiwis.
“The most important thing of the day was how Yuki played. He put a lot of pressure on Venus right away. Venus did not have many chances on Yuki’s serve. Yuki played incredibly well. He always put Venus on the defense and played attacking tennis throughout the match. He really took it to his opponent,” Somdev told PTI.
“It was a fantastic effort by both us. I am very proud of the way we played. Very happy to get a win for Team India. I am happy with the way both of us performed today (Sunday) under pressure.”
The seasoned Rohan Bopanna says that he has never seen Yuki playing such quality tennis in Davis Cup.
“Big big win by this boy. Best ever tennis I have seen Yuki play in @DavisCup. Huge effort,” Bopanna tweeted.
“Greatest feeling to represent your country and get a win, especially when the chips r down. Victory feels sweeter,” read his another tweet.
Talking about his own match, Somdev said playing against Marcus Daniell was a tough challenge.
“I was a little surprised because I had to play Daniell and he is a big-serving guy and net rusher, not someone we are used to playing in modern day tennis. There are not many net rushers anymore,” he said.
Somdev felt that Kiwis were never a weak side and India always had a difficult task at hand.
“I would not say we had a much superior side but away from home is very tricky, I think people do not understand playing in conditions that are not favourable. It’s so cold, indoors. We are not used to playing in such conditions in India, where we don’t have many indoor facilities to play tennis. It was tricky for us,” he said.
Somdev also said that doubles specialists Bopanna and captain Anand Amritraj played a big role in the Indian team’s win.
“The thing that really helped us in this tie was our senior leadership. Rohan really stepped up even though they lost their doubles. He played a huge part in boosting morale. Rohan helped me even before the match yesterday to prepare for it and today (Sunday) throughout the match, he really put some good support.
“Also not to forget how important our captain was. Yesterday he made a statement after we were down 1-2, he said, ‘Now the match is 50-50, Som and Yuki have match in their hands.’ So it’s good vibes, good energy lot of self belief in each other. I felt like it was a complete team effort to come back from 1-2 down. I am very proud to be part of such a great unit,” he said.