Indore: Yuki Bhambri overcame a mid-match foot injury to down Chinese Taipei`s number one player Tsung Hua Yang and give India a 1-0 lead in the Asia/Oceania Group I Davis Cup tie here on Friday.
Yuki was cruising at one stage but a right ankle problem in the third set hampered his progress. However, he battled out pain and his sluggish rival for a 6-2 6-4 6-7 (1) 6-3 win in two hours and 52 minutes.
Now, Somdev will lock horns with Ti Chen in the second singles rubber. The battle between the two former junior world number one players was turning out to be quite comfortable for the Indian but Yuki`s injury in the ninth game of the third set almost scuttled the home team`s chances in the opening rubber of the first round.
It was surprising that Yang could not dictate terms even when Yuki was struggling to serve and his movement was restricted severely. Yang had a fantastic opportunity to push Yuki out of the match but he blew away the chance with his error-prone game.
To his credit, Yuki did not give up and kept fighting and his persistence finally paid. At the start, Yuki started dominating the contest with stupendous control over his shots. He kept the ball in and targeted the lines for winners.
Yang started to struggle after a disputed call in the fifth game, when he was facing two break points, disturbed his rhythm.
Yang thought he had served an ace but the linesman called it out which the umpire did not notice. Yang had no option but to go for a second serve. He somehow saved the first chance but Yuki smashed a forehand winner to convert the breakpoint for a 3-2 lead.
The Indian consolidated the lead in the next game, which he served out with his first ace of the match. Yuki set up the points with ease, specially the easy put away volleys and was consistently hitting winners.
Yang was struggling to keep the ball in as unforced errors crept into his game. In no time, Yuki was up 5-2 and he served out the set in just 32 minutes.
Yuki was running away with the match as he opened up a huge 5-2 lead in the second set by breaking Yang twice. But suddenly the Indian started to lose control over his shots.
He failed to serve out the set as a double fault at 15-30 and the following unforced error put him down by two break points. He hit a backhand long, handing Yang his first break of the match.
That break infused some confidence in Yang's game and he served out the next game at love to reduce the margin to 4-5. Yuki was now serving for the set but execution that he showed earlier, while going for the lines, was missing.
A long fight followed in the 10th game, which Yuki served out but not before fighting off three break chances.