Espoo (Finland), Sep 18 (IANS) India were staring at defeat in their Davis Cup World Group I First Round match against Finland, down 0-2 after losing both the singles matches on Friday.
Prajnesh Gunneswaran went down in straight sets to Otto Virtanen, 3-6, 6-7(1) in the opening singles, and then Ramkumar Ramanathan lost 4-6, 5-7 to Emil Ruusuvuori, Finland’s top singles player ranked 74 in the world, in one hour and 36 minutes as the hosts took charge of the encounter.
Going by the rankings, the score should have been 1-1 but Finland used the home conditions and support from their substantial crowd to make a good start.
After the draw ceremony, India’s non-playing captain Rohit Rajpal was happy that his top singles player was taking the court first against Finland’s second singles player.
But Gunneswaran failed to fire and went down rather tamely.
Gunneswaran, who is coming back from a wrist injury, struggled for rhythm as his serve was broken in the sixth game of the first set. He did put up a tough fight in the second set but Virtanen ramped up the pressure in the tiebreak to win the best of three sets match in straight sets.
Gunneswaran struggled with his first serve as he managed to land only 58 percent as compared to 73 by his opponent. He had two break points but could not convert even one while Virtanen converted one of eight chances.
“I have played better before but obviously didn’t do what I needed to do today. I feel like I couldn’t convert on some of the close situations,” Gunneswaran said, admitting that he committed mistakes at crucial times while his opponent came up with a better response on some of the big points.
“It was a combination of him coming up with the goods on the big moments and me not doing enough,” he said in the post-match interaction.
India’s hopes rested on Ramkumar but his opponent Ruusuvuori was too strong and did not give the Indian ranked 187th in the world many chances.
Games went with serve till the 10th when Ramkumar lost his service as Ruusuvuori played the big points well to claim the first set 6-4. Ramkumar kept up with his opponent till 5-5 in the second set. The Indian had a good chance to break serve in the 11th game when came back to take the score to deuce. But Ruusuvuori did not make many mistakes and survived the scare. In the next game, he pulled the plug on Ramkumar as he came back from 0-40 down to take it to deuce when he served a double fault. Ruusuvuori won the next point for a 6-4, 7-5 victory and gave Finland a 2-0 lead.
India would now hope that their doubles pair of Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan will keep them afloat in the tie by winning the doubles match.