Published: Sat, February 02, 2019
Sport | By Kayla Schwartz

Davis Cup: Superior Italy push India to brink with 2-0 lead

Davis Cup: Superior Italy push India to brink with 2-0 lead

Cecchinato won two ATP 250 titles past year, both on clay and it remains to be seen how the top-ranked Italian adjusts to grass.

Davis Cup is a team sport, but getting Italy on the board with the first win will surely serve as a confidence booster.

Prajnesh Gunneswaran failed to pull off an upset against Italy's Andreas Seppi on Saturday and India were eliminated from the Davis Cup after losing the knockout World Group Qualifiers 3-1.

Kolkata, Jan. 31 (IANS): India will strive to make the most of home conditions, a favourable surface and format to battle history and former champions Italy in a Davis Cup World Group qualifiers tie here from Friday.

While 22-year-old Berrettini was head and shoulders above Prajnesh, who he beat in the Chengdu ATP last year, sealing the tie in less than an hour, Ramkumar frittered away two break points in the first set to turn the tide in Seppi's favour.

Berrettini, who was preferred ahead of top-ranked Marco Cecchinato to play the singles, took the lead with an early break in the first game of the first set.

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But India need three points to win the match and therefore, the country's two highest ranked singles players Prajnesh and Ramkumar will have to continue the good work they have been doing over the past year. The match was tantalisingly poised in the next game before the Italian broke it with a cross-court back hand.

At 5-4, Seppi won four points in a row to seal the first set in style. Ramkumar and Seppi will take on each other in the opening rubber with the order being reversed on the second day. He won the second set easily by 6-2.

"There is no doubt that we are disappointed but tomorrow is another day and stranger things have happened". In the eighth game, Ramkumar was leading 4-3 but failed to cash in as Seppi changed gears to wrap up the set 6-4. We are not going to rule ourselves out.

Bhupathi remained hopeful, saying he will will now bank on their doubles specialists Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan to keep them afloat.

Prajnesh, ranked at a career best of 102, slowly eased into the match by staying within sight of Berrettini at 4-3.

Asked how Bhupathi motivates, Rohan continued: "From 1997, when I first met him till today, he is very much experienced and a senior player to me". That put a lot of pressure on me because he is a good front-runner and has a very good serve. He used that to his advantage.

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