Davis Cup: India trail China 0-2 after Ramkumar Ramanathan, Sumit Nagal lose
India got off to their worst possible start against China at the Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Group I second round tie held in Tianjin, China on Friday. With straight-set defeats for both Ramkumar Ramanathan and Sumit Nagal, India now stare at a defeat. Ramanathan succumbed to a 6-7(4), 4-6 defeat to 18-year-old Wu Yibing while Nagal was thumped 6-4, 6-1 by Ze Zhang.
India now have an uphill battle of securing wins in doubles and the reverse singles rubbers on Saturday.
The top seeded Indians were expected to take the lead against China, but both Ramanathan and Nagal failed to deliver in the absence of the in-form Yuki Bhambri, who is recuperating from a minor abdominal injury. The weather had not been kind to the Indians in Tianjian for the last couple of days, affecting their training sessions. But that was the least of India’s worries.
The 23-year-old Ramkumar, who attained a career-best ranking of 132nd this week, could not build on a bright start that saw him breaking the young Chinese in the very first game. The 332nd ranked Yibing has had a sensational few months, winning both the singles and the doubles titles at the US Open Juniors and he also went on to his first ATP Challenger title at the age of 17.
The Chinese brought that form and broke the Indian back before snatching the first set in a tie-break. Ramanathan could not make any use of the two break point opportunities that he got in the second set and conceded the match in 1 hour 40 minutes.
In the second match, the 213th ranked Nagal dropped his serve five times to go down to the World No. 247 Ze Zhang in 1 hour 7 minutes.
The onus is now on the veterans Leander Paes and Rohan Bopanna to bring India back into contention in the doubles rubber, on losing which India will be conceding the tie. The 44-year-old Leander will be attempting to break the Davis Cup world record for the most number of doubles wins when he takes the court on Saturday. He is currently tied with the Italian great Nicola Pietrangeli at 42 wins apiece.