In a nail-biting opening singles encounter at the Davis Cup World Group I play-off, Ramkumar Ramanathan exhibited resilience and skill to clinch a hard-fought victory over Pakistan's Aisam-ul-haq Qureshi. The win has given India a 1-0 lead in the crucial tie, hosted at the Islamabad Sports Complex on a freezing Saturday.
The match unfolded with intense competition as Aisam took the first set, igniting the partisan crowd's enthusiasm. Despite a tough start, Ramkumar Ramanathan staged a remarkable comeback, winning the subsequent sets with scores of 6-7(3), 7-6(4), 6-0. The encounter showcased the players' determination, especially Aisam's spirited play that kept the crowd on the edge of their seats.
As the temperature dropped, Aisam struggled to contain his double faults, providing an opportunity for Ramkumar Ramanathan to capitalize on improved returns. Aisam's efforts were commendable, playing out of his skin to make it a close match, but he faced challenges with his left hamstring at the beginning of the third set, losing steam towards the end.
Crucially, Ramkumar Ramanathan saved two break points in the eighth game of the second set, a pivotal moment in the outcome of the match. Ramkumar's high-quality percentage tennis, efficient serving, and strategic gameplay were evident throughout the match. Despite Aisam's charges to the net and effective use of drop shots, Ramkumar's resilience and service game ultimately secured the win.
The second set witnessed a thrilling tie-breaker, with the Indian seizing the crucial break on the first point, ultimately claiming victory with an ace on the fifth set point. In the third set, Ramkumar Ramanathan capitalized on Aisam's struggles, breaking him in the second game and dominating the match as Aisam took a medical timeout for groin and hamstring treatment.
Ramkumar's performance not only handed India the lead but also set the stage for an exciting Davis Cup encounter, showcasing the resilience and skill of both players in challenging conditions. N Sriram Balaji is now set to take on Aqeel Khan in the second singles match of the tie.