Islamabad, Feb 3 (IANS) Ramkumar Ramanathan and N. Sriram Balaji won their respective matches in contrasting styles as India took a commanding 2-0 lead over Pakistan in the Davis Cup World Group I Playoffs, First Round encounter here on Saturday.
Pakistan has chosen the grass courts of the Pakistan Sports Complex, Islamabad, hoping that its seasoned players Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi and Aqeel Khan will capitalise on that surface against the Indian singles players who prefer hard courts.
The plan seemed to be working as Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi won the first set against Ramkumar Ramanathan in a tiebreaker and went neck-and-neck with the higher-ranked Indian in the second. But in the end, those hopes did not materialise as Ramkumar fought back to win the next two sets and won the match. Sriram Balaji
did not give his rival Aqeel Khan many chances, won the second singles in straight sets, and gave India a perfect start in the two-day tie.
Ramkumar defeated Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi 6-7(3), 7-6(4), 6-0 in just over two hours and N Sriram Balaji made it 2-0 in favour of India when he overcame Aqeel Khan 7-5, 6-3 in one hour and 15 minutes.
In the first match of the day, Ramkumar Ramanathan dominated serve in the second and third sets as he fired 20 aces and won 78% points on his first serve. He put in 98 percent of his second serves and won 83 percent of points on that. In contrast, Qureshi could manage only 13 aces and served 10 double faults (only 1 for Ramkumar). He had a low 72 percent on his second serve and won only 42 percent points on it.
The Indian player however did not get the start he expected as games went by serve till 6-6 in the first Test. In the tiebreaker, the Pakistani player was more aggressive and won it at 7-3.
Ramkumar got an early break in the second set, but the Pakistan player broke back soon to make it 2-2. The games went with serve till 6-6 but this time in the tiebreaker, the Indian emerged on the top, won the tie-break 7-4 and levelled the scores 1-1. The third set was a virtual walkover as Ramkumar won it 6-0 to give India a perfect start.
Balaji then made it 2-0 with a comprehensive victory.
After games went with serve in the second singles till 5-5, Balaji broke Aqeel’s service in the 12th game to win the first set 7-5. In the second set, Balaji broke the Pakistani player’s serve in the sixth game to go 4-2 up and then went on to win the set 6-3 to seal victory in the match.
On the second day of the match, Yuki Bhambri and Saketh Myneni will try and clinch a 3-0 victory when they take on Muzammil Murtaza and Barkat Ullah in the doubles match followed by Ramkumar Ramanathan taking on Aqeel Khan while N. Sriram Balaji meeting Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi in the reverse singles.