A gritty Ramkumar Ramanathan showed stomach for fight despite his limitations against a much-superior rival even as Feliciano Lopez, playing in place of Rafael Nadal, handed Spain a 1-0 lead by winning the opening singles tie of the Davis Cup World Group Play-off tie against India.
The young Indian was graceful in a 4-6 4-6 6-3 1-6 defeat against world number 26 Lopez in the match that lasted two hours and 26 minutes.
Ramkumar, egged on by the capacity crowd, gave his all but it was not enough to worry his mighty opponent, who is a reigning French Open doubles champion along with compatriot Marc Lopez.
The 4000-strong crowd backed 203-ranked Ramkumar with the tunes of a band team and he certainly gave them a few moments to cheer and celebrate.
However, the pulling out of Nadal from the match due to an upset stomach must have left the fans disappointed. The whole build up to the tie was focused on Nadal as tennis fans had hoped to see the 14-time Grand Slam champion in action. Saketh Myneni, ranked 137, clashed with David Ferrer but lost the contest in straight sets. (-PTI)