Yuki gives India 1-0 lead, Somdev's fate hangs in balance

Yuki gives India 1-0 lead, Somdev's fate hangs in balance

Yuki gives India 1-0 lead, Somdev's fate hangs in balance

Young Yuki Bhambri gave India a winning start and a 1-0 lead against Chinese Taipei but Somdev Devvarman was taken to his limit in the second singles match before bad light suspended play in the Asia/Oceania Group I Davis Cup tie here Friday.

Bhambri seemed headed for an easy victory after winning the first two sets with relative ease but an ankle injury in the third hampered his progress. 

In the end, the Indian showed great grit to battle past Taipei No.1 Tsung Hua Yang 6-2, 6-4, 6-7 (1), 6-3 in two hours and 52 minutes.

Somdev, who is India's top-ranked singles player, toiled hard against 284th-ranked Ti Chen in the second singles in fading light.

The Ti Chen-Devvarman match was tied 6-7, 7-6, 1-6, 6-2, 7-7 when play was suspended.

The Indian was left shell-shocked in the first set by an opponent he has beaten twice earlier. Somdev struggled in the second set as well, just about edging the Taipei opponent.

In the third, Ti Chen completely outplayed Somdev thrashing him 6-1 but the Indian repaid the favour in the next set by winning 6-2.

The final set went right down to the wire with both players missing chances to finish the match.

Somdev had four match-point opportunities to give India a 2-0 lead but fluffed all his chances. On the other hand, Ti Chen had two break-points with the set tied at 6-6 but failed to convert giving Somdev a way back into the match.

The match will now continue Saturday (11.00 a.m. local time).

Somdev was 4-2 up in the first set and 4-1 in the second but allowed Chen to comeback from those precarious situations. Eventually both the sets were decided via tie-breakers.

Somdev was routed in the third set but to his credit, he refused to throw in the towel and kept playing his style of game, keeping as many balls on the court as possible and waiting for his rival to commit errors.

The ploy indeed paid dividends as Chen did provide the Indian an opening by a few unforced errors. Somdev broke Chen twice in the fourth set for a 5-1 lead. He dropped serve in the seventh game but Chen double faulted at 30-40 to allow the match to be stretched to the fifth set.

Now it was a game of nerves and Chen did lose control over his shots a bit. Earlier he was finding the lines but now they were going wide and long. One such error handed Somdev a break and a 5-3 lead but the Indian despite being up 40-0, failed to serve out the match.
Somdev had another match point in the next game but could not cash in on.

In the first match, Yuki was dominating the contest with stupendous control over his shots. He kept the ball in and targeted the lines for winners. There was hardly anything that Yuki hit out.

Yang started to struggle after a disputed call in the fifth game, when he was facing two break points. Yang thought he has served an ace but the linesman had called it out which the umpire did not notice.

Yang had no option but to go for a second serve. He somehow saved the first chance but Yuki smashed a forehand winner to convert the breakpoint for a 3-2 lead.

The Indian consolidated the lead in the next game, which he served out with his first ace of the match. Yuki set up the points with ease, especially the easy put away volleys and was consistently hitting winners.

Yang was struggling to keep the ball in as unforced errors crept into his game. In no time, Yuki was up 5-2 and he served out the set in just 32 minutes.

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