India have mostly relied on the doubles teams to get them out of jail and force Davis Cup ties onto the Sunday matches and that trend would continue against Spain too in the World Group Playoff at the RK Khanna Stadium in the capital. It was expected of Spain to topple the Indian singles players – much junior in terms of experience at the top of the ATP pyramid and in terms of playing five setters – and both of these factors were on show on Friday.
The first rubber was to see 14-time Grand Slam winner Rafa Nadal take on Ramkumar Ramanathan but that script changed an hour or so before start when the Spaniard pulled out due to an aggravated wrist injury that had forced him to pull out early from the French Open. The narrative and the strategy changed in the Indian camp but the ask continued to remain high. Lopez, after-all, is ranked 26 in the world and has reached the quarters of Wimbledon and US Open besides being a semi-finalist at numerous ATP 1000 Masters events.
Ramkumar served well but was hurt by his start to the sets which saw him being broken in the first game of the second set and also in the fifth game of the first. In the fourth set, the Indian who resides in Spain saw his game self-destruct after causing euphoria having won the third. The final scoreline read 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 in favour of Feliciano who, as per the draw, is set to play the doubles on Saturday with Marc Lopez.
A good start turned into a perfect one in another hour and 28 minutes when David Ferrer breezed past Saketh Myneni to win 6-1, 6-2, 6-1 to give the visitors a great beginning.
Ferrer showed his true gutsy and bold self from the back of the court to hit the ball with ease as the humidity rose and the court became slower.
Myneni suffered from his poor serving to fizzle out easily when his service percentage dropped.
India will now hope Leander Paes and quite possibly Myneni can get the Indian team out from the hole to force something to play for on the Sunday.
Play in the doubles event begins at 7 PM.