Indore: Somdev Devvarman tamed Ti Chen after a gruelling contest while Rohan Bopanna combined with Saketh Myneni to win the doubles rubber to give India an unassailable 3-0 lead in the Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Group I tie against Chinese Taipei here on Saturday.
Somdev today needed just eight minutes to complete the unfinished business as he beat Chen 6-7 (4) 7-6 (3) 1-6 6-2 9-7 in the second singles, which could not be completed yesterday due to bad light. Beginning the day at tied 7-7 in the fifth set, Somdev played attacking tennis, served well, hit the ball hard, found the lines and was able to pin Chen on the baseline to set up easy put away volleys.
This was exactly what Chen was doing to Somdev yesterday. The change in tactics was rewarding for the Indian as he broke Chen in the 16th game, albeit, after squandering two more match points. He had missed four chances yesterday to close the match. Finally, Somdev clinched the issue on his seventh match point when Chen hit one wide. Overall, the contest lasted four hours and 40 minutes over two days.
It was the third meeting between Somdev and Chen. The Indian had beaten Chen in an away Davis Cup tie in 2009 and then at the Asian Games the next year. Later, Bopanna and debutant Myneni brushed aside the challenge of Hsien-Yin Peng and Tsing Hua Yang 6-0 6-7(3) 6-3 7-6 (2) in two hours and 21 minutes to render tomorrow`s reverse singles inconsequential.
Originally Hsin-Han Lee was nominated to play with Peng but Taipei chose to play their number one player Yang, hoping the combination would pose a better challenge to the Indians. India would now travel to Korea for the second round tie in April and if they win that, the team will compete in the play-offs to re-enter the elite 16-nation World Group.
It is possible that the captain would change nomination for the two dead rubbers, to be played tomorrow. Bopanna, who touched a career-high doubles rank of world number three last year, showed his class and experience as he clearly was the most dominant player of all four. He held his serves with ease, fired 18 aces and served at an intimidating pace, which was too hot to handle for Yang and Peng.
At times, Peng and Yang could not even see where the ball landed as it past them before they could think of a suitable return shot. Bopanna also returned well and was excellent at the net. Myneni at times hit stunning winners and complimented his senior colleague well. The Indians began with a bang as they bageled the visitors in the opening set in just 16 minutes, not letting them win a single game. Bopanna set the tone when he hit a volley winner and Myneni got into the business with an fine lob on the first break point of the match on Yang`s serve.
However, despite the drubbing in the first set, Taipei players made a strong comeback by taking the second set via tie-breaker. Peng played a crucial part in that turnaround. He served well and was very sharp at the net. They faced just one break chance in the second set and went on to shock the Indians in the tie-break. Bopanna could not serve that well in the tie-break and it went in Tapiei`s favour.
The Indians regrouped and took a 4-1 lead in the third set by breaking Yang again in the second game. Myneni`s serve came under pressure as he faced two break chances in the seventh game but the home players did not let the visitors cash in on it. The Indians had a chance to go up early in the fourth set on Yang`s serve but for Peng`s fantastic play. Taking the lead on the first point on Yang`s serve proved crucial in the tie break as Bopanna consolidated that to 3-0. They never looked back and Saketh hit a forehand winner on Yang`s serve to seal the tie.