When Yuki Bhambri’s return hit the net cord and rolled over to the opponent’s side in the first point of his match against New Zealand’s Finn Tearney in their Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Group 1 tie here on Friday, India’s non-playing captain Anand Amritraj had a premonition that it would be their day.
“Two years back we played them in Christchurch, in the first three rubbers things just did not go our way on these small points. We were up 40-0 and they served three aces, the marginal points went their way.
“The close calls went their way as we could only win 3-2. So when Yuki won that point, I thought luck was on our side today and that’s how things turned out for us,” Amritraj said at the end of first day’s play as India emerged 2-0 up winning both the singles in straight sets.
Bhambri kicked off the campaign with a clinical display, beating Tearney 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 and Ramkumar Ramanathan, India’s highest ranked singles player in the absence of the injured Saketh Myneni, followed it up with an equally authoritative victory, beating the experienced Jose Statham 6-3, 6-4, 6-3.
Though Bhambri had a lucky break on the first point and also broke his opponent’s serve in the first game, he came under pressure in the first set itself, broken early he was down 1-3 at one time. However, he regrouped well, fought back to level scores and eventually won the first set 6-4.
That was the only blip for Bhambri as he unleashed powerful ground strokes, using his strong backhand to put pressure on his opponent. His forehand too worked well and the result was that Tearney didn’t get too much of a chance.
“I was always in control of things,” Bhambri said, adding that he played as per the plan, aware that it was a five-setter and there was enough time to regroup.
Ramkumar had no such problems as he started off well against an experienced campaigner. He played the big points well, served strongly throughout the match and did not make too many unforced errors.
New Zealand captain Alistair Hunt was disappointed. “We made more unforced errors than the Indians,” he said.
He was however confident that his players will do better in the doubles match on Saturday as they are better than ranked than the Indian combination of Leander Paes and Vishnu Vardhan. But with Paes on the court, rankings may not matter.