Davis Cup Playoff: Ramkumar Ramanathan's Victory Over Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi Gives India 1-0 Lead Against Pakistan

Davis Cup Playoff: Ramkumar Ramanathan's Victory Over Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi Gives India 1-0 Lead Against Pakistan

Ramkumar Ramanathan's victory over Pakistan's Aisam-ul-haq Qureshi gives Pakistan 1-0 lead in Davis Cup playoff.

PTIUpdated: Saturday, February 03, 2024, 04:11 PM IST
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Ramkumar Ramanathan. | (Image Credits: Getty)

Ramkumar Ramanathan overcame a fighting Aisam-ul-haq Qureshi in a tight opening singles to hand India a 1-0 lead over Pakistan in the Davis Cup World Group I play-off in Pakistan on Saturday.

Ramkumar lost the first set after battling hard against a fired up Aisam, much to the delight of partisan crowd, but bounced back to emerge a 6-7(3) 7-6(4), 6-0 winner at Islamabad Sports Complex in freezing cold conditions.

Aisam struggled to contain his double faults while Ramkumar began to return better as the match progressed. N Sriram Balaji will now take on Aqeel Khan in the second singles of the tie.

Aisam played out of his skin to make it a match but struggled with his left hamstring at the start of the third set. He lost steam towards the end. Ramkumar saved two break points in game eight of second set and that eventually became crucuial in then outcome of the match.

Ramkumar Ramanathan overcomes initial nerves to take upper hand:

Ramkumar quickly overcame the initial jitters to serve out the opening game at love with an ace. Points were long when Aisam served but when the home favourite hit a backhand service return winner on Ramkumar's serve in the third game, it was clerar that match was on.

While balls became heavy and difficult to control due to dip in temperature, Ramkumar, served extremely well. He had fired five aces in his first three service games, closing the fifth for a hold with his third ace of the game.

Aisam charged the net often and also used the drop shots very effectively. The Pakistani had served three double faults but he came back strong in following points to stay unhurt. Ramkumar played high-quality percentage tennis, serving five games at love in the opening set which was eventually settled in tie-breaker.

Aisam raced to a 3-0 lead with a break of serve on the first point with Ramkumar hitting a forehand wide and Asiam holding his serves on following points. A forehand lob from Ramkumar that went long gave Aisam his first set point and he converted that with an ace and let out a roar.

Ramkumar got the kind of start he needed in the second set., He reeled off eight straight points to go one break up as Aisam dropped serve at love.

The Indian, though, squandered the opportunity to further build pressure by dropping his serve in game four. Aisam produced some stunning backhand shots. The one that stood out was a service return winner while he was down 30-40.

He got breakpoint with a screaming backhand passing winner and Ramkumar buckled under pressure by hitting a forehand wide.

Ramkumar Ramanathan denies Asiam a big lead:

All fired up, Asiam held the game easily for a 3-2 lead. In game eight, Ram saved two breakpoints. Again it was Aisam's service return winner that earned him two breakpoints. Ramkumar sasved both with some good serving.

In a repeat of first set, it all boiled down to tie-breaker and this time it was the Indian who got the break on the first point by hitting a service return winner. In no time Ramkumar zoomed to a 4-0 lead and soon had five set points. Aisam saved the first four but Ramkumar nailed it on fifth with an ace.

Ramkumar drew the first blood in the third set, breaking Aisam in the second game. He attacked Aisam's servicve with his forehands. Aisam was up 40-15, but Ramkumar hit a passing backhand winner and followed that up with another winner to make it deuce. Ram found a service return winner to earn a break point and Aisam served a double fault to help his rival.

Aisam was now struggling and took a medical time out to treat his groin and hamstring. Ramkumar just ran away with the match after that.

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