Davis Cup: Rohan Bopanna-Divij Sharan pair seal win for India's advance into World Group I
The pair of Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan survived a slugfest to ensure that India advanced to the Davis Cup World Group I with two rubbers to spare.
Published: 06th March 2022 08:36 AM | Last Updated: 06th March 2022 08:36 AM | A+A A-
CHENNAI: The pair of Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan survived a slugfest to ensure that India advanced to the Davis Cup World Group I with two rubbers to spare. The team management eschewed the possibility of teaming Bopanna with Ramkumar Ramanathan — the duo have already won two World Tour titles in 2022 — to go with a tried and tested partnership.
That selection call could have gone so horribly wrong. In the end, they saved three match points to beat Frederik Nielsen and Mikael Torpegaard 6-7 (4), 6-4, 7-6 (4) at the Delhi Gymkhana on Saturday.
The win meant that India would compete in their World Group I ties in September. In the inconsequential fourth rubber, Ramkumar further extended the advantage with a nervy 5-7, 7-5, 10-7 win over Johannes Ingildsen. Bopanna, who has now won 11 doubles rubbers at this level, credited Sharan for keeping his composure while serving in the third set.
“We missed two volleys and that put us under pressure... credit to Divij, he pulled off those second serves.” Captain Rohit Rajpal also reminded Sharan that the visitors would also feel the pressure. On why the team didn’t take the opportunity to play a Prajnesh Gunneswaran or a Niki Poonacha (national champion), Rajpal said that Ramkumar was eager to get on court.
If India wins their World Group I tie, they will advance to the qualifiers. They need to win that as well if they are to feature in the expanded Davis Cup finals. That would be a dream scenario for a team that has struggled to win rubbers at that level (their last tie saw them going down to Finland). Post that tie, coach Zeeshan Ali had predicted a tough few years for the side.
“We need to put together a team comprising of younger players, need to pick top juniors and integrating them into the team as a fifth player or a hitting partner,” he had said then. “Need to focus on the next generation. Invest in 16-17-18-year-olds.”
Bopanna, who has been playing Davis Cup for the last 21 years, says "this (the players right now in the system) is what we need to build on."
“This is what we need to build on, this is what we have. There is no point talking about somebody going into top-50 or not being there. We have to fight with this,” said the 42-year-old. Considering they will likely come up against a team that will have at least one player in the top 100, they need to ‘fight’ to even stand a chance in September. For the time being though, they can be reflected on a job well done.
Rohan Bopanna/ Divij Sharan bt Frederik Nielsen/ Mikael Torpegaard 6-7 (4), 6-4, 7-6 (4), Ramkumar Ramanathan bt Johannes Ingildsen 5-7, 7-5, 10-7.