Bengaluru: Promising tennis players Ramkumar Ramnathan and Prajnesh Gunneswaran won their respective singles matches to give India a 2-0 lead against Uzbekistan in the second round Asia/Oceania Zone Group I Davis Cup tie here at the KSLTA Tennis Stadium on Friday.
Ramnathan outplayed Temur Ismailov 6-2, 5-7, 6-2, 7-5 while Gunneswaran prevailed over Fayziev 7-5, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.
In the second tie between Gunneswaran and Fayziev, both players started on a positive note but soon Fayziev, who was called into the Uzbekistan side as a replacement for their star player Denis Istomin, took the upper hand. Unperturbed by the situation, Gunneswaran maintained his calm and played his natural game as a result the Indian bounced back to clinch the first set 7-5.
The second set saw a intense fightback from Fayziev. As at one point he was leading by 4-1 and giving the Indian player all hard times at the court. Gunneswaran, however, tried to match the pace set by Fayziev as he won two consecutive games to make it 3-5 but failed to outplay his opponent completely and as a result the latter clinched the set 3-6 in 26 minutes and equalised the score.
In the third set, Fayziev started strongly by winning first two games. At one point the left-handed Indian player was trailing 1-3 but soon Gunneswaran made 3-3 and then took a 4-3 lead with some attacking game and swift court movements.
Gunneswaran continued his pace and form and prevailed over his opponent with ease to clinch the third set 6-3.
The Indian player started the fourth set positively. Gunneswaran showed his skills and temperament to outplay his opponent 6-4 to seal the deal for his country. Fayziev, however, tried to slow down the things but it was too late as the Indian player was totally dominating the things.
Earlier in the first match, Ramkumar Ramanathan helped India get off to a winning start with a 6-2, 5-7, 6-2, 7-5 triumph over Temur Ismailov.
Ramanathan, who recorded his third straight win after two consecutive victories against New Zealand in February during the first round, won the first match in three hours and 30 minutes.
"You always feel the pressure playing at home. But it's always advantageous. As you saw in the match, it came down to belief and who was willing to take that extra step. So I think I raised my game up and with all the crowd...yeah, it helped my game," Ramanathan said after the match.
Ramanathan won the first set easily with Ismailov trying to find his feet in alien conditions with the sweltering afternoon heat taking a toll on the 22-year-old. But at 4-3 in the second set, the Uzbek made a comeback stretching Ramanathan all the way to finally draw level at 1-1.
"I need to work on my serve still," said Ramanathan, who hit 16 aces but was also guilty of a lot of double faults, especially in the second set where he made seven of them. The ploy was to drain out the visitor by playing long rallies. Ramanathan used his cross-court forehand to good use as well coupled with his big serves.
After taking a 2-1 lead, Ismailov was pushed to the corner as Ramanathan looked to seal the tie in the fourth set. But the 406-ranked player refused to throw in the towel by not letting Ramanathan run away with the game at any stage during the fourth set.
But in the end, the Chennai-based player held fort with a serve and volley winner to put India in the driver's seat.