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Davis Cup: Bopanna helps India make history

Last updated on: September 19, 2010 16:40 IST

India consolidated its place in Davis Cup history on Sunday when it scored a come-from-behind 3-2 win over Brazil in the world group play-off tie in Chennai.

The win helped India join an elite club of nations (see box) to have won the tie after being 0-2 down on the opening day. Even though India has had a good history as regards the competition, having been the losing finalist on three occasions, it was for the first time that it had come back to win a tie after losing both the opening singles.

Besides, the win helped the home team book its place in the elite world group.

And it was an unlikely hero who ensured this.

Rohan Bopanna, who had frittered away a plethora of opportunities to win the opening singles on Friday, made amends with a clinical 6-3, 7-6 (2), 6-3 win over Ricardo Mello in the fifth and final rubber.

The 30-year-old Indian, fresh from an impressive showing at the recent US Open --Rohan Bopanna where he reached the final in men's doubles in partnership with Pakistan's Aisam Qureshi, delivered the goods yet again, albeit in singles on this occasion.

Somdev Devvarman, rather Thomaz Bellucci, had kept the Indian hopes alive in the day's opening reverse singles. The Indian, while leading 7-6 (3), 4-0, was declared as the winner when the Brazilian decided to pull out owing to fatigue.

That result, the manner in which it came notwithstanding, helped keep the home side's chances of an improbable come-from-behind win a distinct possibility.

And with a vociferous crowd cheering Bopanna at every point in the final rubber, it was only a matter of time before the Brazilian wilted under pressure.

In fact, Mello would have felt at home during the final match considering the Brazilian crowds are notorious for being noisy during Davis Cup matches. It was noisy at the Nungambakkam stadium in Chennai too.

Only in this case, it was Mello who was at the receiving end. A consistent-than-usual Bopanna and a hyperactive crowd combined to ensure the Brazilian didn't get the time to settle down and assert his game plan in the manner he had done so in his opening singles (against Somdev) on Friday.

A break of serve in the fourth game was all Bopanna required to pocket the opening set. The Indian had started the set on an aggressive note, racing to a 4-1 lead and that had prompted compatriot Somdev to cut short the press conference and rush to the sidelines to support his teammate.

Bopanna was equally solid in the second set as well. However, Mello was playing better in this one than he did in the opening set.

In the 10th game of the set, a double fault from Bopanna handed Mello a couple of break points (rather set points, at 5-4, 40-15) – his first and only for the match.

The Brazilian failed to take the opportunities. Or shall we say the Indian didn't allow him to take them? And the stage was set for a tie-break.

Bopanna dominated this one, helped by a very generous opponent who errors in a canter. The result, the Indian pocketing it 7-2 and racing to a two-sets-to-love lead.

And when Bopanna broke Mello at love in the fourth game of the third set, the writing was on the wall (it wasn't the case already). Bopanna completed a dominating performance by serving out the match in the ninth game. 

For Bopanna, it was just an eighth win in 22 singles Davis Cup matches.

For India, it was a first.

Nations that achieved 0-2 comebacks:

 Sweden     5
 Indonesia    4
 France       3
 Finland      2
 Italy        2
 Russia       2
 South Africa 2
 India 1*

* Besides India, 24 countries have also achieved the feat.


Bikash Mohapatra Chennai