Yuki Bhambri rescued India with an impressive win after Somdev Devvarman’s shock defeat, leaving the visitors locked 1-1 with New Zealand on day one of the Davis Cup Asia Oceania Group I tie.
Michael Venus, ranked as low as 548 in the singles, turned the tables on Somdev, who lost the opening singles 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 3-6, 1-6 after three hours and 43 minutes.
The fortunes changed dramatically for India as Somdev, who came into the tie after winning a Challenger title in USA, was firmly in control before losing his way.
Egged on by the home crowd, Venus recovered amazingly after losing the first two sets and outsmarted 148th ranked Somdev to surprise the visiting camp. The onus to bring India back was now on Yuki, who did not disappoint the Indian camp as he raced to a 6-2, 6-1, 6-3 win Jose Statham in the second singles.
In the opening set, Yuki broke Statham, ranked 345th, in the fifth game for a 3-2 lead and consolidated his position with an easy hold in the next. The Indian youngster, ranked 151st, was on top of his game as he broke Statham for the second time in the seventh game and served out the set in the second. An early break put Yuki in the driver’s seat. Statham held serve in third game but dropped again in the fifth to hand the 23-year-old Delhi boy a 4-1 cushion.
Yuki had tightened his grip over the match and it was a matter of time before he served out the second too.
Statham raised his game a bit, putting up some fight against Yuki as the first five games went on serve.
However, Yuki yet again found a way to get a break and created a lead of 4-2, following a break in the sixth game.
Yuki held his serve in the next and at 2-5, Statham was serving to stay in the set. The Kiwi player managed to hold in the eighth but could not stop Yuki from serving out the match in the next. The winner of the tie will qualify for the World Group Play-offs to be held in September. Yuki Bhambri says he could not have played better against Jose Statham as he saved India the blushes.
“Initially I was nervous but I tried to stay focussed on my match and just gave it my best. It was a clinical performance. I could not have played any better,” Yuki said.
“Getting early breaks in the first set helped as I could play freely. And winning the first set was the key,” he added.