Indian tennis star Somdev Devvarman notched up India’s first win in the Davis Cup today. Devvarman outlasted and outplayed Jiri Vesely of the Czech Republic 7-6, 6-4, 6-3 in two hours and forty minutes for a straight sets victory.
The 30-year-old Indian executed his signature grinding style to perfection against the 22-year-old Czech. Experience and finesse were the name of Devvarman’s game as he lured the powerful Czech into his style of play, by making the latter the aggressor and countering with well-placed shots. The efficacy of his gameplan was evident from the get-go, as Vesely seemed fatigued as early as the first set.
The Assamese player’s dominance in the first seemed a shot in the arm for Vesely, who started out strong in the second set. But again, the 5”11’ Devvarman shrewd gameplay forced the 6”6’ Vesely to be aggressive, which he neutralized par excellence. With the Delhi crowd cheering him on, Devvarman seemed infallible as he served with pin-point accuracy, right in the corner of the serve box, to wrest the second set.
The temperature seemed to be a decisive factor, as Devvarman clearly had better stamina and endurance. There was speculation that Vesely might be nursing an injury, but it was clear that the Czech couldn’t handle the heat of Delhi or Devvarman’s game. A similar performance in the third set saw Devvarman through, as he flung his racket into the crowd in celebration.
In the post-match interview, a cheerfully nonchalant Devvarman expressed how meaningful this victory was. It is the first time the 164th-ranked Devvarman has beaten a top 50 ranked opponent in 40th seeded Vesely, in a while. He thanked the crowd for their great support and encouraged them to continue it for the rest of the Indian campaign. The doubles match on Saturday will be crucial as it will decide the victor in this tie.
Devvarman is a three-time gold medallist, once in the Commonwealh Games and twice in the Asian Games. He is the only player to have qualified for three consecutive finals at the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association), winning back-to-back finals in his junior and senior years at the University of Virginia, USA. Devvarman can trace his family roots back to Tripura’s erstwhile royal family. He is the grandson of Tripura's late royal scion Bikramendra Kishore Debbarman.
In the other singles match today, Yuki Bhambri lost 2-6, 1-6, 5-7 to Lukas Rosol.Published 18 Sep 2015, 15:35 IST