Ramkumar Ramanathan lost a dogfight with Marin Cilic in one of the best matches of his career after unforced errors pulled Prajnesh Gunneswaran down as India trailed Croatia 0-2 on the opening day of the Davis Cup Qualifiers, in Zagreb on Friday.

The gruelling match between Ramkumar and Cilic was all about big serves in which the Croat prevailed 7-6 (8) 7-6(8) after two hours and 12 minutes.

Playing against world No 37 and the 2014 US Open Champion, Ramkumar played fearless brand of tennis, forcing Cilic to play his best game. He lost the match but proved that captain Rohit Rajapal’s faith in him to challenge Cilic had merit.

There was no break of serve in the match, showing that the margin of defeat was very little. Ramkumar stayed solid with his game as stroked well from the baseline to make deep returns and also served and volley to rattle Cilic.

India now must win all three remaining matches on Saturday to qualify for Davis Cup finals.

Earlier, much was expected from Prajnesh Gunneswaran but he lost to Borna Gojo, who was considered a weak link in the rival line-up, 6-3 4-6 2-6 in one hour and 57 minutes.

Gojo, ranked 277th, had not won a singles match in Davis Cup earlier and Indians were hoping that the trend will continue. But he peppered returns on Prajnesh’s backhand side and served big. Most importantly, he handled pressure better than the Indian.

The India had taken the the opening set after 39 minutes, but couldn’t hold on to the lead and lost the opener in three sets.

With PTI Inputs