Yuki Bhambri and Ramkumar Ramanathan outclassed their opponents for straight sets wins as India took a healthy 2-0 lead against New Zealand at the end of the first day of their Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Group 1 tie at the Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex, Balewadi in Pune on Friday.
Bhambri initiated the proceedings by beating New Zealand’s top singles player Finn Tearney 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 and Ramkumar followed it up with an equally authoritative victory against Jose Statham as India established ascendancy easily in the three-day tie. Ramkumar won the second singles 6-3, 6-4, 6-3.
New Zealand has rarely progressed past the group stages while India reached the World Group playoffs in the last three years. New Zealand has played in the World Cup for a few years in the 80s, reaching the semifinals once. In comparison, India has played the final thrice and the wide gap in standard was evident on the opening day of this Group 1 tie.
Bhambri capitalised on his experience against Tearney, who started well but could not sustain the momentum. Bhambri was broken early in the first set but fought back to eventually win 6-4, 6-4, 6-3.
Bhambri was down 1-3 in first set but fought back superbly to win 6-4.
He was broken in the second game of second set before breaking back immediately. He settled down nicely and apart from couple of hiccups here and there cruised to a comfortable victory.
Bhambri returned well to break his opponent’s serve early in the third set too and by that time the writing was clear on the wall.
Later, Ramkumar easily broke his opponent’s serve in all three sets and emerged a comfortable winner.
India are hoping to win this tie and the next one against the winner of the match between Korea and Uzbekistan, who are tied 1-1 at the end of first day, to reach the World Group playoffs.
With the results of the singles matches going on expected lines, New Zealand’s hopes now depend on Saturday’s doubles match in which their combination of Artem Sitak and Michael Venus are ranked higher than the Indian pairing of Leander Paes and Vishnu Vardhan.