India, Uzbekistan split singles on the opening day

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New Delhi, Feb 8 (UNI) Rohan Bopanna and Denis Istomin won their respective matches in contrasting styles as India and Uzbekistan finished the opening day 1-1 in the Group 1, Asia Oceania Davis Cup tie at the R K Khanna Tennis stadium here today.

In the morning, Rohan Bopanna took full advantage of the under prepared grass court to outplay Farrukh Dustov 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 to give the hosts 1-0 lead.

However, in the second singles Uzbekistan's number one player Denis Istomin, ranked 184 in the world battled hard to down debutant Somdev Devvarman 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 to drew parity for his country.

''Today is a success not a grand success,'' said Indian captain Leander Peas after the singles. ''We are in driver's seat, we now have to win tomorrow to keep the momentum.'' He praised Rohan for his superb display and also talked highly of Somdev whom he called a bright prospect.

''It is not easy to play against such a tough opponent (Istomin) on your debut, but Somdev showed fighting qualities,'' he said.

Somdev, who was preferred over Prakash Amritraj by skipper Leander Paes, put up a brave fight and though he lost to much stronger and better opponent, he certainly was not disgraced.

''I did not play as well as I should have,'' admitted Somdev but added ''I gave my best but he (Istomin) came pretty big.'' The 23-year-old rookie, based in US was happy the way he played, ''I think this was my best Davis cup match, I had no problem with the court. I served well and I think is much higher ranked rival point by point especially in the first two set and came out as a fighter to the core.

Unlike the first match, which Bopanna won in 75 minutes without much ado, 784 ranked Somdev gave Istomin a run for his money before bowing out.

Somdev, unlike Bopanna, had no previous experience on the grass court and thus had no court advantage against his rival.


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