New Delhi, February 4: Ramkumar Ramanathan and Sriram Balaji chalked out contrasting victories over their Pakistani rivals to give India 2-0 lead in its Davis Cup 2024 World Group I play-off on the grass courts of the Pakistan Sports Complex in Islamabad on Saturday.
Ramkumar Ramanathan overcame a stiff challenge from the experienced Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi, while Sriram Balaji produced a flawless victory in straight sets against Aqeel Khan.
Ramkumar defeated Qureshi 6(7)-7(3), 7(7)-6(4), 6-0 in a match that lasted just over two hours. While, Sriram outplayed Khan in one hour and 15 minutes to register a 7-5, 6-3 victory to consolidate India’s position ahead of the second day’s play.
In the opening match of the rubber, Ramkumar Ramanthan put up a brave fightback to put India 1-0 up. After two long-winded sets, the Indian blanked the 43-year-old Qureshi 6-0 in the third to put the visitors ahead.
Both players had managed to hold their serves in the first set, dragging it into the tie-break. Qureshi garnered four straight points to take control of the match. A few points from Ramkumar proved insufficient as the Pakistani walked away with the first set.
The second set began on a positive note for Ramkumar after he broke Qureshi’s serve in the first game. The lead didn’t last long, after Qureshi broke back in the fourth to draw parity.
The set once again reached the tie-break. This time, however, Ramkumar grabbed the first five points to lead 5-0. Qureshi tried to claw his way back but Ramkumar bagged the tie-break 7-4 and the second set with it.
Ramkumar served 20 aces in the match compared to Qureshi’s 13. On the other hand, the Pakistani errored with 10 double faults to Ramkumar’s one in the entire match. Qureshi looked no match for Ramkukar in the third set as the visitor walked away with the set 6-0 with India leading 1-0 in the rubber.
For Sriram, the victory looked quite clinical in the rain-hit encounter. Both held their serves throughout the match before Sriram broke Aqeel's 12th game to grab the first set.
After a rain-delayed start to the second set, Aqeel looked no match for Sriram, who found his break point in the sixth game. The Indian fired 8 aces in the match.
On Sunday, Yuki Bhambri and Saketh Myneni will take on Pakistan’s Muzammil Murtaza and Barkatullah in the doubles encounter. This will be followed by reverse singles where Sriram will play Qureshi and Ramkumar will take on Aqeel.
One more win will settle the tie in India’s favour.