Saketh, Ramkumar hand India lead in Davis Cup tie

Chandigarh, July 15 (IANS) Saketh Myneni and Ramkumar Ramanathan overcame tough conditions and difficult opponents to win their respective singles matches and hand India a comfortable 2-0 lead on the opening day of the Asia/Oceania Group I Davis Cup tie against South Korea here on Friday.

Interestingly, both Indians won their matches by walkover as their respective opponents became bogged down by the heat and had to pull out.

Ramkumar enjoyed a memorable Davis Cup debut as he notched up a hard-fought victory over Seong Chan Hong of South Korea in the opening singles to hand India a 1-0 lead at the Chandigarh Club.

Ramkumar will, however, thank the hot and humid conditions here for playimg a part in his win. The 21-year-old Indian was leading 6-3, 2-6, 6-3, 6-5 (15-15) when the Korean suffered a cramp in his right thigh and was unable to continue.

The tough conditions took a toll on both players, but Ramkumar seemed to cope better than the Korean.

Ramkumar relied on his strong serve and backhand to take the first set. But he paid for committing a seemingly endless string of unforced errors which allowed Hong to claw his way back to level terms in the second set.

Ramkumar faced another break chance in the third game of the third set but banked on his strong serve to pull himself out of trouble. The Indian continued to use his serve effectively to clinch the third set and regain the lead.

The fourth set witnessed a close battle before Ramkumar broke Hong at 5-5 to take a decisive advantage. With the Indian serving for the set at 6-5, Hong suddenly collapsed while holding his right thigh.

The Korean was unable to continue and had to be lifted out of court, thus handing the match to Ramkumar.

Saketh then doubled India’s lead by getting the better of the experienced Yong-Kyu Lim with a brave performance. The Indian was leading the gripping, if somewhat slow, contest 6-1, 3-6, 6-4, 3-6, 5-2 when the Korean collapsed and lay flat on his back, unable to continue.

It was brave performance by Saketh as he kept on fighting despite suffering from cramps. The 28-year-old was visibly grimacing with pain and virtually fighting on one leg after falling down due to cramps during the fourth game of the second set. The contest had to be stopped several times from then on to allow the Indian physio attend to Saketh.

The Korean tried to make the most of Saketh’s condition by making him run the extra yards with some clever lobs at the nets and excellent placement. But the Induian fought bravely on, even coming up with some superb net play of his own.

Saketh’s efforts finally bore fruit when the Korean collapsed even as the Indian was serving for the match in the seventh game of the fifth set.



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