Yuki Bhambri beat Jose Statham 7-5, 3-6, 6-4 to complete a 4-1 triumph for India over New Zealand in their Davis Cup Asia-Oceania Group 1 first-round clash in Pune on Sunday. Earlier in the day, Ramakumar Ramanathan had sealed the tie for India with a 7-5, 6-1, 6-0 win over Finn Tearney.
The 24-year-old Bhambri, with a world ranking of 368th, made a magnificent comeback in the first set, winning four games on the trot to come back from 2-5 down and win the set 7-5. The same script followed in the second set: after scores were tied at 2-2, the 29-year-old Statham sped ahead to take a 5-2 lead. Bhambri pulled one game back but could repeat his first set’s heroics, losing the set 3-6.
In a closely contested third set, both players traded blows. Bhambri however held a slim lead of 3-2 and 5-4 and managed to take the set 6-4 and with it, the match.
This win takes India to the second round of the Asia-Oceania Group I where they will meet Uzbekistan in April. On Friday, Yuki Bhambri and Ramanthan had won their respective single rubbers to put India 2-0 up. New Zealand got one back through the Kiwi duo of Artem Sitak and Michael Venus who defeated Leander Paes and Vishnu Vardhan 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(6), 6-3 on Saturday.