July 16, 2024
Ramkumar Ramanathan recovers in time in opposition to Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi as India 
take 2-0 lead in opposition to Pakistan

Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi, one in every of Pakistan’s most achieved tennis gamers, could now be 43 years previous, and should not even be positioned on the singles rankings of the ATP Tour, however he discovered himself seven factors away from creating an enormous upset. However India’s Ramkumar Ramanathan clutched up on serve and return to save lots of himself from the blushes and overturn a one-set deficit in opposition to Qureshi, prevailing 6-7 (3), 7-6 (4), 6-0 within the opening singles rubber of the Davis Cup World Group 1 playoff tie between India and Pakistan in Islamabad on Saturday.

N Sriram Balaji, a comparatively inexperienced singles participant prior to now few years, adopted up Ramkumar’s win by defeating 44-year-old veteran Aqeel Khan 7-5, 6-3 to offer India an imposing 2-0 lead within the tie heading into the second day.

India have been the favourites on each expertise and rating – even with out their two top-ranked gamers Sumit Nagal and Sasikumar Mukund – and it was Ramkumar’s capacity to carry his personal on grass courts that was supposed to offer the aspect the sting. Nonetheless, Qureshi had Ramkumar on the ropes all through the second set, after edging the tiebreaker within the first, maintaining together with his opponent’s large serving recreation. Qureshi was 40-15 up at 3-4 on Ramkumar’s serve earlier than the Indian served his means out of bother. He by no means regarded again.

The Pakistan veteran shouldn’t be a daily singles participant, however his know-how, particularly on grass, and dedication to high-tempo attacking tennis put Ramkumar in a repair. The 461st-ranked Indian, nevertheless, solved for issues within the second set, returning with venom from the get-go, getting an early lead earlier than being damaged himself to make it 2-2.

Ramkumar, a serve-and-volleyer, had not been on top of things on his first serve up till that time, making solely 48% of them, however was nonetheless racing by his service video games within the first set. It remained key for him as he was capable of flip the match round by locking in on serve, persevering with to maintain his service video games and factors brief, and permitting his veteran opponent to put on himself out as he took the second to a different shootout.

Festive offer

He then broke Qureshi’s recreation down with a few large winners to trend a 4-0 lead within the tiebreaker and served it out to take the match to a deciding set. And as Qureshi wilted below the depth and the stress, struggling an obvious hamstring subject, the Indian wouldn’t lose one other recreation as he handed out a bagel within the third set and ignited India’s push to interrupt down Pakistan’s spirited problem.

The Davis Cup crew’s tour of Pakistan stays one of many uncommon events that an Indian sports activities crew has crossed the border over the previous few years, as geopolitical tensions have risen between the 2 nations. In view of that, and India’s a number of requests to maneuver the tie to a impartial venue prefer it had been finished in 2019, the ITF pressured the Pakistan Tennis Federation’s hand in retaining this tie a low-key affair, with solely 500-odd spectators in attendance on the Islamabad Sports activities Complicated on a dark day.

Within the second singles rubber, Khan saved up with Balaji by some good serving, even saving a break level in the midst of the primary set earlier than buckling as he was serving to pressure the set right into a second tiebreaker. Rain would interrupt proceedings with India unquestionably forward, and as play resumed, Balaji didn’t let the momentum circulate the opposite means, staying sharp on his personal serve and breaking Khan’s in the one recreation he created break factors to spherical out the 7-5, 6-3 win.

Subsequent up in doubles, Yuki Bhambri and Saketh Myneni will tackle Muzammil Murtaza and Barkat Ullah within the third rubber on Sunday, with which they might seal the tie for India with a win.


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