Somdev Devvarman on Friday said it was one of the best serving days of his career as he fired 20 aces in his winning effort against Czech number one Jiri Vesley to help India draw level 1-1 against top seeds Czech Republic in a Davis Cup World Group Play-off tie in New Delhi on Friday.
He won 79 per cent of his first serve points, which was one of the key factors in Friday’s successful effort by Somdev.
“I was serving pretty well. It was one of the best serving days of my career. It was nice,” said Somdev at the post-match press conference.
“I am very happy with the way I played. I was obviously nervous to begin with. Little bit of the nerves eased because I knew I was not the favourite by any means and people did not expect me to win. So going in there with that kind of an attitude definitely helped me play more relaxed,” he added.
Somdev registered his biggest victory of the season, beating Vesley 7-6 (3) 6-4 6-3 after Yuki Bhambri’s defeat against big-hitting Lukas Rosol, World No. 85, in the first match.
Ranked 164 in the world, the Indian said that the strategy to hold the Davis Cup World Group Play-off tie in Delhi payed off as the slower court helped him post an upset win over World No. 40 Vesley.
“I think the conditions helped here. We came to Delhi knowing that it will help me and Yuki. Strategy we used in coming to Delhi, the slower courts of DLTA, worked for us today(on Friday). Czechs are big guys with big servers and are big hitters. Knowing that and given the conditions here we made that decision. We are 1-1 and are in a good position today (on Friday),” said Somdev.
However, Somdev insisted that India were still the underdogs.
“We are still underdogs. They are favourites in every match, expect for the doubles. Tomorrow we are the slight favourites. Other two matches on Sunday, they are again the favourites. But now the way both of us (me and Yuki) have played, we feel lot better about our chances and one match on one day, anything can happen,” he said.
Somdev said that his team was ready for any surprise that the Czechs might come up with.
“I would not be surprised if they field someone else against me and Yuki. They have four very good singles players. So to come out and change something would not surprise any of us. In fact, they are pretty confident that we are not going to change anything in our line up. But we are ready for anything. We can also expect a change in their doubles team also,” said Somdev.
Talking about the crucial moments in the match today, Somdev said: “Playing a really good tie break made a huge difference in the first set. Then I was down a break in the second, in fact that was the only time I lost serve today, but I kept doing the right things. Guys on the sideline gave me tips, told me what was going on. They told me some things that were going on and I really got some good advice and stuck with it.”
“The 4-4 in the second set was a huge game for me. That was the most important game of the match. Tie break was obviously huge and then 4-4 in the second set. I was happy to get out of that game and once that happened, the match kind of opened up for me.”
Asked whether he saves his best for Davis Cup, Somdev said: “Every time I play, I give my best. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I am a hard worker as I have always said. Every time I step on the court I give my best. I am happy it works out in Davis Cup once in a while.”
On whether he had realised that his opponent wasn’t in the best physical state today, Somdev said: “I completely sensed it for sure because he wanted to get out of the long rallies. It was working for him that how well he was serving. It wasn’t possible for me to get a good a hit on the return. May be on his second serve I was a lot more successful but not on the first one, those were impossible to read.”
“The first two games were really long. Those two games were extremely physical and I was trying to send the message early on. I was trying to keep him out there for as long as possible. That was my strategy.”
Vesley had been suffering from some niggles.
Somdev said he was happy to have an off day tomorrow and prepare well for Sunday.
“I have a day off tomorrow and I would be happy to be playing just the cheer leader. I will get a nice long sleep, eat well. Keep my body going and be ready for Sunday. Hopefully I will be able to serve well,” he said.
Meanwhile Yuki Bhambri, who lost the opening match 2-6 1-6 5-7, said he had a couple of chances but failed to capitalise.
After going down tamely in the first two sets, Yuki had his best chance to win the third one and take the match to the fourth set. Having broken Rosol early in the third set, Yuki had a great opportunity to win it when Rosol was down 0-40 in one of the games but he squandered all five chances.
“I had a great opportunity when I was 0-40 up. You always think ‘what could have happened had I broken him’. Going into the fourth set, you never know what could have happened,” said Yuki.
“I was getting closer and better, and he was also getting tired under the humid conditions. I did not have many chances. I had just a couple of chances but I failed to capitalise on those,” said a disappointed Yuki.
Yuki conceded that it was a tough match and by the time he started to read his opponent in the third set, it was too late.
“I am of course very disappointed. It was a tough match and he was playing really very well. He was hitting the ball
really hard and I could not dictate the points at all.
“I started reading his game by the third set and started to play well but could not grab on the opportunities I got.”
On Sunday’s singles, Yuki said, “I will get to watch him play and get an idea of what to do and how to go about it.”