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Davis Cup: India lose opening singles to Brazil

Last updated on: September 18, 2010 00:26 IST

India ended Day 1 in the Davis Cup World Group play-off against Brazil down 0-2 after Rohan Bopanna and Somdev Devvarman lost the opening singles, at the Nungambakkam stadium in Chennai, on Friday.

Unheralded Ricardo Mello ensured Brazil a comfortable lead going into the second day of the match with a come-from-behind 4-6, 6-2, 6-7, 6-2, 6-4 win over against Somdev Devvarman, after world No 27 Thomaz Bellucci had bested Bopanna 6-7, 7-6, 7-5, 4-6, 10-8 to put Brazil ahead.

- Disappointing to finish second best: Bopanna

Somdev had everything going for him: self-declared 'good form', a vociferous crowd cheering every point he won and a purpose to boot, considering Bopanna's defeat had put India on the backfoot.

Yet, the 25-year-old lost.

While Bopanna's was clearly a performance above his potential, Somdev's effort clearly outlined the fact that there is more hype to his game than substance.

Bluntly put, Somdev was guilty of over-confidence. He underestimated his opponent and paid the price.

True, Mello wasn't an intimidating opponent, but he was certainly not worth underestimating.

His ranking (75) was better than Somdev's 113, he was certainly more experienced than the Indian and he is more prominent on the circuit than.

After struggling early on, he used his head to come up with a back-up plan which caught Somdev on the wrong foot.

"I just tried to fight and play more with my forehand. And it worked," said Mello, of the plan that helped him score the come-from-behind win.

"As the match progressed I felt I could attack his second serve and thereby dominate the points," he added.

The match was akin to the opening encounter: more than four hours long and littered with errors.

Somdev raced to a 3-0 lead in the opening set, breaking Mello twice, but had trouble wrapping up the set.

The Brazilian got a break back before the Indian managed to close out the set 6-4.

Mello, however, carried the momentum into the second set, racing through 6-2.

The third set was the most competitive, with both the players matching each other stroke for stroke.

Somdev raced into an early lead, had a chance to serve out the set (at 5-4), but lost his serve and ensured it went into a tie-breaker.

To his credit, though, the 25-year-old Indian dominated the tie-break, winning it 7-3, to take a two-sets-to-one lead.

The Brazilian upped the ante in the fourth and came up with an aggressive response, something that took Somdev by surprise.

And before he could realise, Mello had pocketed the set 6-2, breaking twice in the process.

The proceedings in the fifth set went on serve till the seventh game, when Mello drew first blood, breaking Somdev.

The Indian retaliated with a break of his own, but the break, instead of pushing the Brazilian back, inspired him to step up the pedal.

Somdev was broken again in the ninth game and Mello ensured the number of successive service breaks in the fifth set remained at three by holding serve, thereby ensuring himself an encouraging win and Brazil the upper hand going into day two.

Bikash Mohapatra Chennai