Rohan Bopanna and Ramkumar Ramanathan went down in their doubles match as India lost the Davis Cup World Group I tie to Finland after conceding an unassailable 0-3 lead, in Espoo on Saturday.
Captain Rohit Rajpal changed the doubles combination at the last minute by pairing Bopanna with Ramkumar instead of left-handed Divij Sharan, but it didn’t help as they lost the match 6-7(2), 6-7(2) to Henri Kontinen and Harri Heliovaara in one hour and 38 minutes.
Prajnesh Gunneswaran and Ramkumar had lost their singles matches on Friday and to stay alive in the tie, the Indians needed to win the doubles match.
The reverse singles have now been rendered inconsequential.
Heliovaara was considered the most vulnerable of all four players on the court but he raised his game by several notches and created a huge impact on the outcome of the match with his fearless approach.
The Indians as many as four breakpoints in the eighth game of the second set when winning that game could have given them the chance to put the hosts under pressure.
At 3-3, the Indian pair attacked the serve of Heliovaara, going 30-all but the home player served big on the next two points to ensure the set stayed on serve.
Eventually, the opening set went to a tie-breaker. Heliovaara found a stunning service return winner off Bopanna on the second point to get the mini break and also held his serve as Finland took a 4-1 lead.
Then came Ramkumar’s double fault and a volley error at the net that gave the Finland players five set points. They converted the second when Ramkumar could not return Kontinen’s serve.
A forehand winner by Ramkumar at 30-all in the second game of the second set set up the first break chance for India and they converted when Kontinen could not return Bopanna’s backhand.
However, Bopanna dropped his own serve in the next game when he made consecutive unforced errors.
Bopanna’s serve again came under attack but he managed to hold after going to deuce from 40-15 as India led 4-3.
In the next game, the Indians went up 40-0 on Heliovaara’s serve but blew all three break points and later one more to let their opponents hold for a 4-4 scoreline.
Another tie-breaker followed. Helovaara pulled of a sensational forehand winner at 5-2 to get to match point and it was all over for India when Ramkumar made an error in the next point.
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