Going by current form, few observers would have expected anything spectacular from Somdev Devvarman ahead of his Davis Cup match against Jiri Vesley of Czech Republic. The 30-year-old Indian has been battling injuries and indifferent form for some time now. While Somdev has now plying his trade on the Challenger circuit— the second division so to speak of professional tennis, the 22-year old Vesely is seen as among the upcoming prospects in the game. Ranked 40th in the world, the Czech is 124 places higher than the Indian. All predictions came to nothing as Devvarman won in two hours and 41 minutes.
It was clear by the middle of the second set itself that an upset was on the cards. Standing tall to serve, Somdev held back for a moment to gather his breath.
After wiping the sweat from his forehead, he ripped a serve. The 214 kilometer an hour thunderbolt landed immaculately on the corner of the service box before hurtling past the motionless Vesely.
The ace helped him win his third straight game bringing the set back on serve after having trailing 1-3.
For a long time now, Somdev was criticized for his defensive and one-dimensional style of play. On Friday afternoon, however, he began to mix his serves, which kept Vesley on his toes. He fired aces — 20 in all — almost at will. This helped him stage comebacks at crucial junctures of the game. In all Devvarman won 79 per cent of his first serve points,a key factor in his success. “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.
Devvarman later admitted the fact that he wasn’t favoured to win helped him out. “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.
With a 14-11 win-loss record in Davis Cup matches, Somdev’s record is nothing to boast of. But, when it matters, the Guwahati-born has helped India wriggle out of trouble. Like his two wins in the Group-1 Asia/Oceania second round, paved the way for India to the 2014 World Group playoffs.
“It’s more of a relief. I enjoy playing here. It’s a team effort, and it’s because of them that I could perform,” Somdev said after the win. With the duel interestingly poised at 1-1, the Czechs could alter their doubles line-up ahead of tomorrow’s encounter.
“I will not be surprised if they do that. Having said that Paes and Bopanna will be up for the challenge. All I know is that we will not change our team composition in the final two days,” he added”