This week on Indian Tennis Weekly #2 we mainly talk about India’s loss to Serbia in the World Group play-off, ATP Challengers and the what lies ahead in the coming week for Indian tennis.
DAVIS CUP HEARTBREAK
All eyes and hearts this past week were in Bangalore for the India vs. Serbia Davis Cup World Group play-off tie with a place in the 16-nation World Group for next year at stake. With Serbia missing the biggest names from its squad, the Indian team would have fancied their chances heading into the tie.
But when Serbia won both the opening singles matches on Friday, it seemed like India would have to wait another year for their promotion. And when Leander Paes/ Rohan Bopanna went down two-sets-to-love and a break down in the third set to the Serbian duo of Nenad Zimonjic/ Iljia Bozoljac, the writing seemed spelt out on the board in BIG CAPITAL LETTERS. But credit to the Indian team for turning that rubber and the tie around and taking it to overtime on Monday.
Paes and Bopanna played inspired tennis to storm back and win in five tough sets 8-6 in the decider, a win which both rated as one of the best in their illustrious careers. Soon after, Paes and Bopanna announced that they would be playing doubles together in 2015 with eyes on the 2016 Rio Games. On Sunday, Somdev Devvarman overcame a sluggish start to oust Dusan Lajovic, at No. 61 the Serb was ranked more than 80 spots above the Indian. But Devvarman turned this into a physical war of attrition and by the time the fifth set came around, it seemed clear that there was going to be only one winner.
With the tie hinging on the final rubber, Yuki Bhambri took on Filip Krajinovic at quarter past 8 PM on Sunday. But a few games in and it looked clear that Bhambri would struggle if it went the distance. After losing the first set, Bhambri went up a break early in the second but by the time rain interrupted play for the second time in the day, the set was tied at 4-4. When play resumed on Monday at noon, Krajinovic took charge, winning the second set 6-4 and the third set by the same scoreline to give the Serbs a tougher than expected 3-2 win.
While Bhambri’s performance in the fifth rubber was certainly disappointing, the Indians need to be commended for coming from the brink of a washout to turn this into an exciting weekend of tennis. The boys in blue will be back in the Asia Oceania zonal group for 2015 while Serbia retain their place in the elite 16.
ATP CHALLENGER/ ITF FUTURES RECAP FOR THE MEN
At the ATP Challenger in Turkey, fourth seeds Divij Sharan and Marcus Daniell won two matches before going down to to top seeds Colin Fleming/ Jonathan Marray, who went on to win the title. At the same event, Purav Raja, seeded third with Andreas Siljestrom, were knocked out in the first round itself by Japanese duo Tatsuma Ito/ Yasutaka Uchiyama.
It was a quiet week for the Indians on the ITF circuit with only 17-year-old Sumit Nagal competing. Nagal won two rounds in the qualifying event to reach the main draw where he was beaten by second seed Dimatir Kutrovsky 2-6, 6-7 in the first round.
On the women’s side, 7 Indians featured in the main draw of the ITF event in Egypt. Fifth seed Nidhi Chilumula, Sri Vaishnavi Peddi Reddy and Arantxa Andrady won their first round matches. Chilumula defeated Peddi Reddy to move into the last eight before she as beaten Ao Gai, of China. Andrady went on to reach the doubles semi-finals with partner Jasmin Ladurner. And at the ITF event in Sapin, 17-year-old Snehadevi S Reddy lost in the first round to Ainhoa Atucha Gomez 4-6, 5-7.
There are no major changes in the rankings this week as far s the Indians are concerned. Sania, who announced that she will skip next week’s Wuhan Open in order to play for India at the Asian Games, holds on to the seventh position in the rankings and the fourth spot with partner Cara Black in the Race to Singapore. Rishika Sunkara climbed 18 spots to No. 459. In the WTA singles ranks, Ankita Raina drops nine spots to No. 302 while Sunkara moves up eight spots to No. 586.
Among the men, Devvarman moves up one spot to No. 143 while Bhambri drops one spot to No. 154. Way down the ranks, Vijay Sundar Prashanth climbs 30 spots to No. 829. And in the doubles, Bopanna and Paes remain at No. 27 and No. 35 respectively while Sharan climbs six spots to No. 118.
THE WEEK AHEAD
Sania is in Tokyo this week where she is top seed in the doubles for the Toray Pan Pacific event in Tokyo before the Asian Games kicks off on the coming weekend. Stay tuned to Sports Rediscovered for all the latest from the Asian Games.