Eight games was all Farrukh Dustov and Sanjar Fayziev could manage to win against Rohan Bopanna and N Sriram Balaji in the doubles rubber of the India-Uzbekistan Asia/Oceania Group I second-round tie in Bengaluru on Saturday.
Bopanna, and his new partner Balaji, who marked his Davis Cup debut in the tie, cruised to a 6-3, 6-4, 6-1 win to give India an unbeatable 3-0 lead in the tie. Most specifically, they helped India reach the World Group Play-offs for the fifth consecutive time, even as they ushered the timeline of Mahesh Bhupathi’s captaincy with comprehensive success.
Rohan Bopanna and N Sriram Balaji’s chemistry
On-court, along with the booming serves, and the multiple winners – and a few shanked shots – that flew from the racquets of Bopanna and Balaji, their synchronisation with each other was also visible. Bopanna was the experienced player of the two, but their partnership, despite its nascence never once stuttered in the course of the match.
“I think it starts off just being together here from the last one week. The captain told us to be here on Sunday, [and] we have been here practising together which I think makes a difference. I think at the end of the day, it makes a difference,” remarked Bopanna about his on-court tandem with Balaji in the post-match conference. He also went on to add that the team’s had developed a stronger camaraderie in the few days that they spent together before the tie.
“Over the past so many years, it was for the first time, the whole team was here [together] on the Sunday [before the tie]. And, I think it’s something to learn for the players, and for me. I [also] think it’s the right way to go forward.”
Is this the resurgence of Indian tennis in Davis Cup?
Given the controversy that had threatened to cover the sway of the Indian momentum in the tie, the aspect about the team’s oneness then struck the right chord. In spite of the structure of the team composition for the future ties remaining yet to-be discussed, Bhupathi, however, preferred to look in on India’s chances in the World Group Play-offs, quite optimistically.
“We can give anyone a run for their money,” started off Bhupathi, before adding, “Obviously, we need to be a bit more favourable with the draw. [But] no matter who we play, we can field a team [of] guys who are serving as big as this, anything is possible.”
And, it’s the last that seems to be the unyielding motto of the current Indian Davis Cup lineup. It’s been felt in each of their wins, tough or easy it has had come about. But, it’s becoming all the more prominent now as they get down to the waiting game of finding out who their next opponent will be.