Chandigarh: Not used to playing singles anymore, India’s Rohan Bopanna found rhythm in nick of time to edge past Hong Chung before Yong-Kyu Lim prevented a Korean whitewash with a gritty win over Ramkumar Ramanathan in the Davis Cup Asia\Oceania Group I tie here today.
Asked to take court in place of Saketh Myneni, who is still recovering from his gruelling match on Friday, Bopanna laboured to a 3-6 6-4 6-4 win against Chung, who is ranked as low as 655 in the ATP rankings. Bopanna last played a singles match in the Davis Cup in 2012 when he won the dead fifth rubber against Uzbekistan s Sarvar Ikramov. It was 10th singles win for Bopanna in Davis Cup today and thankfully it was a dead rubber since India had sealed tie on Saturday itself by wining the doubles.
Playing the dead fifth rubber, 217-ranked Ramkumar lost the close contest 3-6 6-4 6-7(2) in little over two hours to Lim, who is placed 409 rungs below the Indian.
Despite losing the tie 1-4 , the Koreans have to be credited for making life tough for the Indians. They were playing on an alien surface but fought their hearts out in the tie. All Indian players performed a popular Bollywood number Bayee Wah , immediately after Lim closed the tie, much to the surprise and delight of the fans. India will now make its third attempt to qualify for the elite 16-nation World Group. They await the results of the World Group matches to know the rival in the play-offs to be held in September.
India last played in World Group in 2011 when it lost the first round against Serbia. After that, they have lost play-offs twice against Serbia (in 2014, Bangalore) and Czech Republic (in 2015, New Delhi). Army man Lim, who lost to Myneni, recovered remarkably from the spasm he suffered on Friday, and played clean tennis to beat Ramkumar.
Lim broke Ramkumar in the fourth game and served out the opening set in the ninth game in which he also saved a break chance after the Indian had saved three set points. In the second set, Lim again had a chance to go up but the Indian saved a break chance in the seventh game to hold. The 21-year-old lad from Chennai kept fighting and finally broke Lim in the 12th to make it one-all.
Ramkumar grew in confidence and started to play much better. He broke Lim in the sixth game for a 4-2 lead but was broken while serving for the match in the ninth as he served a double fault.
That proved costly as Lim stretched it to tie-breaker in which he prevailed.