With the US Open coming to an end, all eyes will now be on the Davis Cup as the semi-finals will commence in a few hours. Top seeds and defending champions Great Britain take on sixth seeded Argentina while fifth seeded France lock horns with Croatia. India will take on mighty Spain consisting of Rafael Nadal, David Ferrer, Roberto Bautista Agut and Fernando Verdasco in New Delhi in order to book a place in the World Group of next year’s Davis Cup.
India will be looking to make it to the World Group for the first time since 2011 and their 14th year overall. India’s best performance at the Davis Cup has been runners-up finishes in 1966, 1974 and 1987. With only a few hours to spare before India take on Spain, let’s take a look at India’s outings at their previous five Davis Cup appearances.
#1. 2011 Davis Cup- World Group: Round-1
After a 3-2 win over Brazil in Chennai at the 2010 Davis Cup World Group Play-offs, India secured a berth in the World Group of the 2011 Davis Cup where they were drawn against a tough Serbian side consisting of doubles veteran Nenad Zimonjic alongside Janko Tipsarevic, Viktor Troicki and Ilija Bozoljac.In the opening match, Rohan Bopanna put up a tough fight against Viktor Troicki but lost to him in five sets. However, Somdev Devvarman levelled the scores by pulling off a surprise victory over Janko Tipsarevic in straight sets.
In the doubles match, the Indian team were without Leander Paes but the young duo of Rohan Bopanna and Somdev Devvarman won the first set but their Serbian counterparts Nenad Zimonjic and Ilija Bozoljac bounced back to take the next three sets and subsequently put Serbia 2-1 ahead. Viktor Troicki confirmed Serbia’s passage into the quarter-finals by beating Somdev Devvarman in straight sets before Tipsarevic thrashed Karan Rastogi to give Serbia a 4-1 win.
Serbia’s journey eventually came to an end in the semi-finals where they were beaten by eventual runners-up Argentina and India now had to play the World Group Play-Offs to book a place in the World Group of the 2012 Davis Cup.In the World Group, India were drawn against Japan. The Japanese began strongly and won the first two matches with Yuichi Sugita beating Somdev Devvarman in straight sets and Kei Nishikori beating Rohan Bopanna, also in straight sets. The Indians pulled one back when the doubles duo of Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna beat their Japanese counterparts Tatsuma Ito and Yuichi Sugita before Nishikori took Japan to the World Group of next year’s Davis Cup by beating Vishnu Vardhan in straight sets. In the final match, Rohan Bopanna eventually retired against Go Soeda after being 5-4 up in the first set, thus handing Japan a 4-1 victory.
#2. 2012 Davis Cup- Asia/Oceania Zone: Round 2
After losing to Japan in the World Group Play-Offs last year, India were relegated to the Asia/Oceania Group I which they had to win in order to book a place in the World Group Play-Offs. In the first round play-offs, top seeded India were up against New Zealand and the team consisting of Yuki Bhambri, Divij Sharan, Vishnu Vardhan and Sanam Singh thrashed New Zealand 5-0 to book a place in the first round where they were given a bye and would face Uzbekistan at Namangan to book a place in the World Group Play-Offs.The Uzbeks knocked India out of the competition by taking the first three matches with Denis Istomin beating Sanam Singh, Farrukh Dustov getting the better of Yuki Bhambri and the duo of Murad Inoyatov and Denis Istomin beating the Indian team of Rohan Bopanna and Leander Paes.
However, the Indians managed to salvage some pride as Yuki Bhambri beat Denis Istomin 6-7, 7-6, 7-6 in a tightly contested battle. India later made the scores 2-3 as Rohan Bopanna defeated Sarvar Ikramov 6-2, 6-7, 6-1. Uzbekistan were beaten at the World Group Play-Offs by Kazakhstan 3-1.
#3. 2013 Davis Cup- Asia/Oceania Group-I: Round 1
India were once again in the Asia/Oceania Group I which they had to win in order to qualify for the World Group Play-Offs. This year, they were the fourth seeds. Like last year, India made a good start to their group by beating Indonesia 5-0 in the 1st Round Play-Offs to setup a first round encounter with South Korea. The Indian team consisted of Leander Paes, Purav Raja, Vijayant Malik and Ranjeet Virali-Murugesan.India had a horrifying start as Virali-Murugesan was thrashed by South Korea’s Min Hyeok Cho 1-6, 0-6, 1-6. India were then left hanging on the edge of the cliff as Vijayant Malik was forced to retire against Suk-Young Jeong in the third set. Some hope was restored for India as the duo of Leander Paes and Purav Raja beat the Korean duo Lim Yong-Kyu and Nam Ji Sung in straight sets. However, India’s hopes were put to rest as Suk-Young Jeong beat Ranjeet Virali-Murugesan in straight sets before Min Hyeok Cho beat Vijayant Malik in straight sets to take South Korea to the second round where they were eventually beaten by Japan.
#4. 2014 Davis Cup- World Group Play-Offs
This time, India were given a bye to the first round of the Asia/Oceania Group-I where they face Chinese Taipei. The team consisting of Yuki Bhambri, Saketh Myneni, Rohan Bopanna and Somdev Devvarman thrashed the Chinese Taipei 5-0 to setup a second round clash against second seeded South Korea.
The unseeded Indians were looking to avenge their 4-1 defeat to the Koreans last year and made a good start with Somdev Devvarman beating Hyeon Chung in straight sets before the Koreans equalized through Lim Yong-Kyu who beat Sanam Singh. After the duo of Rohan Bopanna and Saketh Myneni triumphed over their opponents Lee Hyung-Taik and Lim Yong-Kyu, Somdev Devvarman confirmed India’s qualification to the World Group Play-Offs by beating Lim Yong-Kyu.In the World Group Play-Offs, India were up against Serbia who beat them in the opening round of the 2011 Davis Cup World Group. The Serbs who were without the likes of Novak Djokovic and Viktor Troicki, got off to a brilliant start by taking the first two matches with Dusan Lajovic beating Yuki Bhambri and Filip Krajinovic beating Somdev Devvarman.
The Indians bounced back with the doubles duo of Leander Paes and Rohan Bopanna coming back from two sets down to beat the duo of Ilija Bozoljac and Nenad Zimonjic in five sets to keep their hopes alive. Then, Somdev Devvarman levelled it up for India by beating Dusan Lajovic in five sets. However, Filip Krajinovic won the decider against Yuki Bhambri in straight sets to send Serbia into the World Group of the 2015 Davis Cup.
#5. 2015 Davis Cup- World Group Play-Offs
This time, India were seeded second in the Asia/Oceania Group-1 and were given a bye to the second round where they would face New Zealand whom they had beaten 5-0 three years back. However, this time New Zealand drew first blood as Somdev Devvarman squandered a two-set lead to lose against 27-year old Michael Venus.
However, Yuki Bhambri who had flopped in the deciding match of last year’s World Group Play-Off against Serbia levelled the scores for India by beating Jose Statham in straight sets before New Zealand restored the lead through the victory of the doubles duo of Marcus Daniell and Artem Sitak over the Indian duo of Rohan Bopanna and Saketh Myneni. Somdev Devvarman then made amends for his mistakes in the opening match by beating Marcus Daniell in straight sets to keep India’s hopes alive.
Once again, India’s hopes rested on the shoulders if Yuki Bhambri who didn’t disappoint this time as he beat Michael Venus in straight sets to seal the victory for India and confirm their passage to the World Group Play-Offs.In the World Group Play-Offs, India were drawn against the Czech Republic team consisting of the experienced Radek Stepanek alongside Lukas Rosol, Jiri Vesely and Adam Pavlasek. Rosol, who had shocked Rafael Nadal in the second round of the Wimbledon three years ago gave the perfect start to the Czechs as he defeated Yuki Bhambri in straight sets. However, Somdev Devvarman levelled things up for India as he beat Jiri Vesely in straight sets.
However, the Czechs seemed too hot for the Indians to handle as the doubles duo of Leander Paes and Rohan Bopanna were beaten by the duo of Radek Stepanek and Adam Pavlasek before Vesely put paid to India’s hopes by beating Yuki Bhambri in straight sets. The Czechs progressed to the World Group of the 2016 Davis Cup where they were beaten by the playing semi-finalists France 3-1.