Shapovalov shuts door on India, guides Canada to World Group
Edmonton, Sep 18 (PTI) Ramkumar Ramanathan put up a spirited fight in the must-win fourth rubber but that was not enough as Denis Shapovalov took Canada back to the Davis Cup World Group with a comfortable straight set win, here Sunday.
The failure to convert four set points in the second set proved crucial as Shapovalov shut the door on India with a 6-3 7-6(1) 6-3 win which handed Canada an unassailable 3-1 lead.
The onus to keep India alive was on 22-year-old Ramkumar and his defeat means that the country will yet again strive in the Asia/Oceania Group I in the 2018 season.
It is fourth straight year that India have not managed to cross the World Group Play-offs hurdle, having lost to Serbia, Czech Republic and Spain in previous three attempts.
Canada, who had lost to Great Britain in the first round, in February, go back to elite 16-nation World Group.
Yuki Bhambri will now play the dead fifth rubber against Brayden Schnur.
In a nervous start, Ramkumar lost 11 straight points but gradually the serve and volley strategy helped him negate Shapovalov's fiery ground strokes.
The Chennai youngster took some time to settle but by the time he controlled the butterflies in his stomach, Shapovalov had gone up 4-1 with a break of serve in the opening set.
It was one-way traffic till the eighth game as the Canadian left-hander lost only three points till he came out to serve out the opening set.
Ramkumar tried to serve and volley but Shapovalov was quick with his returns, hardly giving time to the Indian to charge the net finish the points.
Ramkumar did pose a few question in the ninth game with some sharp returns, earning two breakpoints, but Shapovalov used his big serve to save both and served it out with an ace.
The Indian grew in confidence and put up a much better fight in the second set as he served two games at love. The chip and charge strategy paid good dividends as he led 5-4.
However, the good work came to a naught as he could not convert any one of the four set points he earned in the 12th game and eventually lost the tie-breaker with his fifth double fault of the match.
Despite put under pressure, Shapovalov won 13 of the last 15 points of the second set. That was the difference between the two players. While Ramkumar could take none of the six break chances he got, Shapovalov lifted himself from tricky situations easily.
Shapovalov broke the Indian at love in the sixth game to open up a 4-2 lead and clinched the tie in the ninth game on an unforced error from Ramkumar