Indian samba floors Brazilians

Bopanna clinches deciding tie as India return to World Group with a stunning comeback win

Indian samba floors Brazilians

Making amends for their opening-day defeats, Somdev and Bopanna downed their higher-ranked rivals in a do-or-die situation and led India to its first ever win in a Davis Cup tie from a 0-2 deficit.

Sweden has the most 0-2 comeback wins in the Davis Cup history with five victories and only once has a team won a final from 0-2 scoreline when Australia defeated USA in 1939.

A dominant Somdev led 7-6 (7-3), 4-0 before world number 27 Thomaz Bellucci conceded the first reverse singles, failing to negotiate hot and humid conditions and thus allowing India to level the tie 2-2.

The 479th-ranked Bopanna then came out firing on all cylinders to beat 75th-ranked Ricardo Mello 6-3, 7-6 (7-2), 6-3 in the fifth rubber to complete an amazing come-from-behind win.

Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi had brought India back in the tie by beating Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares in the doubles rubber on Saturday. India’s decision to host the tie on hard courts under trying weather conditions paid as it played an important part in turning tide in favour of India on the final day.

India were forced into the play-offs after losing to Russia 2-3 in the World Group first round in Moscow in March. Brazil now have lost five consecutive play-off ties since 2006.
Bopanna, who had squandered three match-points against Bellucci on Friday, on Sunday showed a lot of control over shots under crunch situations.

Bopanna won the rubber without dropping his serve as he saved two set-points in the 10th game of the second set, which he won in a tie-breaker.

Like the first set, Bopanna broke Mello in the fourth game of the third set and went onto win comfortably. After missing two match-points in the eighth game, Bopanna served out the tie for India in next game.

He fell on the court on his back after dropping a volley winner, which sealed his and India’s win. The moment triggered wild celebrations in the Indian camp as his team-mates ran to court and lifted Bopanna on their shoulders.

Earlier, ranked 113th, Somdev had the upper-hand in the fourth rubber when the Brazilian world number 27 opted out of contest. Somdev put up a brave fight against Bellucci, who also looked in good nick.

Both of them played some engrossing tennis in the first set but Bellucci seemed uncomfortable in the second set. After dropping his serve twice, he walked up to net to shake hands with Somdev and the chair umpire and left the court.

Unlike the first singles he played against Bopanna, Bellucci was spot on with his first serve against Somdev and played beautifully throughout the first set. He hit six aces in his first two service games.

Somdev too showed a lot of heart and gave a tough time to his superior ranked opponent in the intensely fought first set. It was Somdev, who got the first break chance in the ninth game but Bellucci saved all three and the set was stretched to a tie-breaker after going on serve.

Bellucci’s game started to wither at crucial points as he double faulted and committed some unforced errors to hand Somdev a comfortable 5-1 lead. Somdev latched on to the opportunity and closed the set in his favour after Bellucci sent a forehand long.

However, the match took an unexpected turn when Bellucci looked out of sorts and finally threw in the towel. Brazil team captain Joao Zwetsch said he was obviously disappointed that they lost after leading 2-0 and that the weather conditions did affect his players.

“It’s always disappointing to lose after leading 2-0, but I am proud the way our boys played. It is the end of the year and the boys are tired. The heat and the time difference made it difficult for us,” he said.

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