Chennai: Taking a dig at his detractors after helping India stay in the Davis Cup World Group, Rohan Bopanna today said there was no demon in him as he proved it with his win against Ricardo Mello in the do-or-die reverse singles match here on Sunday.
The 479th-ranked Bopanna outclassed 75th-ranked Mello 6-3 7-6(2) 6-3 in the deciding fifth rubber after Somdev Devvarman had levelled the tie with a 7-6(3) 4-0 win over Thomaz Bellucci.
“After Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi have won their doubles match in straight games yesterday, Som (Somdev) provided a fantastic chance for us to remain in the world group. Som’s approach and the manner in which he played today encouraged me and I had to do my job. I am happy that I was able to fulfill my responsibility,” Bopanna said.
“Lot of people had been saying that I lack at crunch times because there is a demon. I must say that I proved them wrong as the only demon that was there was the guy on the other side of the court,” he said.
Bopanna came into the tie after his stupendous show at the US Open, where he won the men’s doubles runners-up trophy along with Pakistan’s Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi.
Veteran Indian Davis Cuppers Paes and Bhupathi lavished praise on both Bopanna and Somdev.
“I tip my hat to all the three guys (Somdev, Rohan and captain of the team Misra). On Friday, Rohan dished out well against a guy highly ranked above him and stayed at the match for five sets and replied well against his aces and backhand drives. I am doubly happy for what Som had done this morning,” Paes said.
“After going down in a marathon first singles on Friday, which was an energy sapping act, Rohan’s game today should be analysed in the manner of his play. He played his natural game and did not lose his serve once,” he said.
Bhupathi added, “Today, Rohan at 479 on ATP chart chopped off someone inside 100 and helped India to remain in the elite zone,” said Bhupathi.
India’s non-playing captain S P Misra lauded young Somdev for his gritty performance against Belluci in the first reverse singles match.
“Somdev was in such a great form that even if Bellucci had not retired, he would have won the match. Today was his day and I could not have asked for better team than this. This is the best team I can ever think of,” Misra said.
Bopanna dished out such a dominating performance that even Brazil captain Joao Zwetsch accepted he made the difference in the crucial Davis Cup tie on Sunday.
He also said that India presented a classic example of team bonding during the tie.
“We could have won but as I have been saying for the last 10 days, the Indian team is a great and strong team. They have great attitude working together. The team bond is there very much. We had great time on the other side but Bopanna played a great match today and that was the difference,” Zwetch said.
Mello said Bopanna’s aggressive instinct sealed the match in his favour.
“For me it was almost the same and it did not envisage any problem with the heat and humid conditions. I lost the match for different reasons. Rohan (Bopanna) was more aggressive today and played a good game,” he said.
“I had few chances in the second set but I could not make best use of them.”