Novi Sad (Serbia): Somdev Devvarman`s late charge proved insufficient as he suffered a straight-set defeat in the must-win fourth rubber against Serbia`s Viktor Troicki, ending India`s campaign in the elite World Group of the Davis Cup, here on Sunday.
Somdev lost the first reverse singles 4-6 2-6 5-7 to his world number 18 rival in two hours and 44 minutes as India conceded an unredeemable 1-3 lead against the top seeds and defending champions in the first round tie.
India will now compete in the play-offs to enter the elite-16 nation World Group while Serbia have advanced to the quarter-finals.
Nevertheless, it was a brave-heart performance by the Indian players in the absence of veterans Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi as they made formidable Serbians work hard to win the tie.
Somdev did extremely well by beating Janko Tipsarevic on the opening day but losing yesterday`s doubles rubber cost India dearly.
Today, it all depended on Somdev to keep India`s challenge alive by drawing parity in the tie but Troicki punctured the hopes of the visitors with a clinical show before the home crowd.
If Troicki was confidence personified, Somdev was not even the pale shadow of his usual fighting self once he surrendered the opening set, though he fought hard in the third set.
As if loss of form was not enough, poor umpiring added to the frustration of Somdev as yet again scenes of arguments with the chair umpire were witnessed.
In the sixth game of the third set, Somdev refused to continue the match over a doubtful call and the match referee had to intervene and convince the incensed Indian to resume.
Troicki hit a shot near the baseline at 40-30 which looked going out but umpire ruled the point and thus game in favour of the Serb.
Somdev first argued and then refused to continue but the match referee eventually succeeded in continuing the game. In an intense baseline slugfest, it was all about making less errors and encashing on the mistakes of the rival and Trociki did exactly that, showing why he is a top-20 player.
After breaking Somdev in the ninth game, for the second time in the first set, an ace gave Trociki his first set point and he made no mistake in converting that.
Somdev tried too hard to claw his way back but the story of free flowing unforced errors did not change, severely hurting the chances and confidence of the Indian.
Somdev saved a break chance in the third game with good serve but soon hit a forehand to net to face another one and dropped serve by hitting another forehand long.
Troicki consolidated the lead with a hold of serve in the next and raced to a 5-1 lead by breaking Somdev at love in the sixth game. Somdev threw his racquet in frustration as the match was fast slipping out of his hands.
After trading early breaks, the third set was locked 5-5 but Somdev`s unforced errors put him down three breakpoints in the 11th game.
A backhand error by Somdev handed Troicki the chance to serve out the tie and he did that after saving two breakpoints in the next game.