Ramkumar Ramanathan and N Sriram Balaji won their respective singles ties on Saturday to give India a 2-0 lead in their Davis Cup World Group I play-off match against Pakistan in Islamabad.
While Ramkumar beat Aisam-ul-haq Qureshi (3) 6-7, 7-6 (4), 6-3 in the first match of the day, Balaji secured a 7-5, 6-3 win against Aqeel Khan in a rain-marred match at the grass courts of the Pakistan Sports Complex in the nation’s capital.
43-year-old Qureshi came out all guns blazing in the opening set against a 29-year-old Ramkumar. Both players were strong with their serves with no break point opportunities arriving at all. Qureshi took a 3-0 lead in the tiebreak and won a point off Ramkumar’s serve once again on his way on clinching the tiebreak 7-3.
Ramkumar began the second set by breaking Qureshi in the first game itself before consolidating it with a love-hold. The Pakistani veteran, however, hit back to win the next two games to bring the set back on hold.
Qureshi had Ramkumar on the ropes in the eighth game bringing up two break points which would have given him the chance to serve for the match. However, Ramkumar saved both and took the set to another tiebreak. Though he trailed 1-3 in the tiebreak, the Indian won six of the last seven points to win the tiebreak 7-4.
The match finally took a toll on Qureshi as he only won nine points in the third set as Ramkumar served up a bagel and closed out the match in style.
In the second match, doubles specialist Balaji squared up against 44-year-old Khan. Like Qureshi in the first match, Khan held his own for most of the first set. However, Balaji got the all-important break of serve in the 12th game to win the first set.
It was a timely break as the match was soon halted due to rain. When the match finally resumed, Balaji broke Khan in the sixth game of the second set to take a 4-2 lead. Khan could not muster up a challenge as Balaji wrapped up the match.
On Sunday, the pair of Yuki Bhambri and Saketh Myneni will look to wrap up a 3-0 win for India when they take on Muzammil Murtaza and Barkat Ullah in the doubles tie.