Chennai: History was made at the SDAT Tennis Stadium on September 19, as India won both its reverse singles matches, effecting a 3-2 turnaround in its Davis Cup World Group play-off against Brazil. The win marked the first occasion of India rallying from a 0-2 deficit to claim a tie since its competition debut in 1921.
With the host required to win both the reverse singles to retain its World Group slot, Rohan Bopanna dismissed Ricardo Mello in straight sets for a decisive victory, after Somdev Devvarman conspired with the heat to win by default against Thomaz Bellucci, who retired from their match due to exhaustion.
The tie flush on 2-2, the 30-year-old Bopanna rode an acoustic crest to victory as a raucous crowd shouted itself hoarse.
Bopanna’s ploy was simple — ensuring that he held his serve and pressurising the Brazilian in the return games. He dismantled Mello’s serve in the fourth game of the opening set, preserving the advantage to close it 6-3.
Neither player was broken in the second set — Bopanna saved two set-points at 4-5, 15-40 — which headed into the inescapable lottery of a tie-break. Boppana cracked open a mini-break to go up 2-1 and lined up four consecutive points from 3-2 to 7-2 to pocket the second set.
In the third set, he was broken in the fourth game and appeared affected by the tonal belligerence originating principally from a highly-partisan media enclosure.
The results: India bt Brazil 3-2 (Somdev Devvarman bt Thomaz Bellucci 7-6(3), 4-0 retired; Rohan Bopanna bt Ricardo Mello 6-3, 7-6(2), 6-3).