In what should be regarded as a commendable achievement, India’s low-ranked ATP players pulled of a close 3-2 win against host New Zealand at Christchurch. It didn’t look good on Friday, when India’s no.1 player Somdev Devvarman lost the opener in five sets to Michael Venus, who is ranked no. 548 in the world to Devvarman’s 148th ATP ranking. But Yuki Bhambri ensured that India shared the first day honors as he defeated Jose Statham in straight sets. Day 2 went in favor of the hosts as the pair of Marcus Daniel and Artem Sitak easily defeated Rohan Bopanna and Saketh Myneni. Therefore before Sunday’s reverse singles, India took to the courts with a must-win situation. In the end, both Devvarman and Bhambri played authoritatively and sent India into the World Group Play-offs. The day began with Somdev Devvarman leveling the tie with a straight sets win over Marcus Daniell in the first rubber and Yuki Bhambri putting the final stamp in an even easier victory in the second against Michael Venus. Next up for India is a world group play-off tie during September 18-20, 2015. But India’s opponent will be decided by an ITF draw that takes place in London tomorrow, July 21, 2015. India could play any one of the 8 nations that include; the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Italy, USA, Japan, Germany, Croatia and Slovakia. While the winner will go to the 2016 play-off, the losing nation has to contest in its Zone Group I event in 2016.
After losing the crucial doubles rubber on Saturday, India required to win both the reverse singles on Sunday. While the two New Zealand players were not considered strong, Somdev Devvarman’s loss on first day had created some apprehension. On Sunday, however, Devvarman didn’t allow the first-day defeat to affect him as he faced Marcus Daniell, who had replaced the original Kiwi Choice of Jose Statham as the player was down with flu. Devvarman made a perfect start by breaking Daniell in the opening game of the first set. That was enough as rest of the set went on serve and Devvarman took the set 6-4. In the second set, Daniell had a break-point opportunity in the sixth game but Devvarman managed to hold. In the ninth game the Indian found a way to break Daniell and served out to take a 2-0 set lead. At the start of the third set, Devvarman held two break points against the New Zealander, who saved them both. But Devvarman finally broke him in the fifth game and raced away to a 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 victory in 2 hours 18 minutes. The result of this rubber meant that India and New Zealand were level 2-2 in the match and the last reverse singles between Yuki Bhambri and Michael Venus held the key.
Bhambri showed exemplary temperament against Venus in the crucial last rubber. In the first set, 23-year old from Delhi won 92% of the first serve points as compared to Venus’s 60 and broke the New Zealander twice to quickly win at 6-2. The story was repeated in the second set that also went in favor of the Indian at 6-2. Bhambri faced his first break point in the sixth game of the third set but he had little problem in staving off. He continued the momentum despite losing his serve once but affecting two breaks against his opponent. Finally, Bhambri converted his third match point to seal the tie for India with a commanding 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 victory.