Christchurch, July 19 (IANS) Yuki Bhambri and Somdev Devvarman guided the Indian tennis team to come from behind and beat New Zealand 3-2 to sail into the Davis Cup World Group Play-offs here on Sunday.
With Rohan Bopanna and Saketh Myneni unexpectedly losing the doubles rubber on Saturday, India were put in more than a spot of bother, trailing the hosts 1-2.
But Bhambri and Devvarman did not lose their nerve and earned impressive straight-set victories in their reverse singles matches to aid India win the Asia/Oceania Group 1 second round tie on the indoor hard courts of the Wilding Park Tennis Centre.
New Zealand started the day on the backfoot as their lead singles player Jose Statham, who lost to Bhambri on Friday, was down with flu and was replaced by World No.643 Marcus Daniell. Though Devvarman lost his opening rubber the day before despite winning the first two sets to Michael Venus, he came back strongly to beat Daniell with the same scoreline of 6-4 in all three sets.
Devvarman’s 13th victory in the tournament levelled the contest at 2-all as it all boiled down to the fifth and final rubber between Bhambri and Venus. The 23-year-old Delhi boy stepped on the pedal when it was required most to defeat Venus 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 and earn his ninth Davis Cup triumph, helping India bag the tie 3-2.
With the win, India extended their head-to-head record to 5-3 against the Kiwis. They have now won the last five contests against New Zealand. The last time India lost to New Zealand was in 1978 in New Delhi.
India had advanced to the World Group Play-offs last year as well only to lose 2-3 to Serbia in September.