India’s hopes of making it to the Davis Cup World Group Qualifiers suffered a blow on Friday as the team lost both their singles matches on Day 1 of the Group 1 tie against Norway.
Casper Ruud beat Prajnesh Gunneswaran 6-1, 6-4, before Viktor Durasovic came up with an identical 6-1, 6-4 win over Ramkumar Ramanathan at the Hakons Hall in Lillehammer, to give Norway a 2-0 lead.
World No 2 Ruud, who was runner-up at the US Open last Sunday was a favourite to win the opening match against Prajnesh, who has not been in the best of form this season and has sunk to 335 in the rankings.
Ruud won the opening set in just under 30 minutes. He did drop the pace a bit in the second set, allowing the Indian some room to hold serve. The Norwegian however, did get the break in the third game of the second set to lead 2-1, and thereon simply had to hold serve to claim the match.
Before the tie, India had pinned their hopes on their No 1 singles player Ramkumar (ranked 276) getting the win against world No 325 Durasovic. But it was the Norwegian who had the better start, getting the break in the third game to go up 2-1, and then winning the next four games to take the opening set.
He got an early break again in the second set, and did the least that was required - hold serve - to come up with a 6-1, 6-4 win.
The Indians got a break point opportunity just once among the four sets played on Day 1. And they’ll have to do much better on Saturday if they’re to stay in this tie. Norway just needs one more win to go through to the Qualifiers.
Day 2’s proceedings starts with doubles, as Yuki Bhambri and Saketh Myneni will play against Ruud and Durasovic.
As of now, should the tie go that far, the fourth match will be between Ruud and Ramkumar and the fifth between Durasovic and Prajnesh.
Both team captains though may change the lineup should they choose.