India will again battle out in the Davis Cup Asian zone after Ramkumar Ramanathan lost the must-win singles clash against Denis Shapovalov 6-3, 7-6(1), 6-3 in Edmonton on Sunday. However, the day ended on a positive note as Yuki Bhambri won the dead rubber against Brayden Schnur 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.
India, who entered the tournament in 18th place,
Ramanathan suffered a nervous start losing 11 straight points but gradually used the serve and volley to great effect and negated Shapovalov’s fiery groundstrokes. Since the top-ranked Indian took his time to settle down in the match, Shapovalov took a 4-1 in the opening set.
However, the Canadian southpaw played dominant tennis and till the eighth game lost only three points. The Indian resorted to serve and volley time and again but Shapovalov was quick with his returns, hardly giving any time to Ramanathan to put any pressure on his opponent. The Indian gave a stiff challenge in the ninth game with some sharp returns, that helped him earn two break points, but Shapovalov used his big serve to save both and secured the game with an ace.
The fightback in the first set helped Ramanathan grow in confidence as he put up a much better challenge in the second set as he served two games at love before leading the match 5-4. However, the good work didn’t last long as he could not convert any of the four set points he earned in the 12th game and eventually lost the tie-breaker with his fifth double fault of the match. Despite being under the cosh, Shapovalov won 13 of the last 15 points of the second set. In the third set, Shapovalov broke the Indian at love in the sixth game to open up a 4-2 lead and won the tie in the ninth game on an unforced error from Ramanathan.
With the result already decided, Bhambri’s match against Schnur proved to be a dead rubber, but Bhambri played to his best potential to top the Canadian 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 in a see-saw battle.
It is now the fourth straight year that India failed to cross the Play-offs hurdle, having lost to Serbia, Czech Republic, and Spain in previous three attempts. On the other hand, Canada, who had lost to Great Britain in the first round in February, will now go back to elite 16-nation World Group, while India will yet compete in the Asia/Oceania Group I in the 2018 season.