New Delhi, Sep 18: Somdev Devvarman's love affair with the DLTA Centre Court continued as he drew level India's Davis Cup World Group play-off tie against Czech Republic 1-1 with an upset win over Jiri Vesley after Yuki Bhambri's tame defeat in the opening singles, here today.
Somdev's biggest victory of the season could not have been timed better as India were in a spot after Yuki's 2-6, 1-6, 5-7 defeat against big-hitting Lukas Rosol, the world number 85.
Somdev came out and maintained his impeccable record at DLTA with a 7-6 (7/3), 6-4, 6-3 win over world number 40 Jiri Vesley, yet again showing that ranking was just a mere number in Davis Cup matches.
Somdev has not lost a single match here since 2010 and Vesley has never won a live rubber in his Davis Cup career and the status quo remained.
'It's more of a relief'
Somdev has suffered defeats against players, ranked outside 400 (Emilio Gomez, 402) on the Challenger circuit in a very ordinary 2015 season so far but the hard-working Indian has managed to win when it mattered most to the nation. It was not as hot and humid as expected.
The intermittent breeze and cloudy sky made the weather conditions quite tolerable with temperature remaining between 31 and 34 degree celsius.
Somdev's fitness, his strong legs and the heart for fight were at work yet again as he pulled off a stunning win. He moved swiftly on the court, hit strokes with precisions and always found a way to open the court for winners, a total of 65.
"It's more of a relief. I enjoy playing here. It's a team effort, it's because of them that I could perform," Somdev said after his inspiring win.
Seasoned players Leander Paes and Rohan Bopanna will now take on Radek Stepanek and Adam Pavlasek in the doubles rubber tomorrow.
In a complete contrast to the first match in which the first set was over in just 24 minutes, Somdev and Vesley fought a battle of attrition. 27 minutes into the match the score was 2-1 on serve as a baseline slugfest was on.
7 break chances
There were seven break chances in those three games - four for Somdev, but no player could convert. The Indian raised the level of his game by several notches as he sprayed winners - a staggering 32 - all over the court and hit 11 aces in the first set. The serve was not fierce but Somdev found the perfect angles to keep the ball out of Vesley's reach.
Vesley stood out with accuracy of his drop shots and one such got him a break in the very first game of the second set. Somdev had saved two breakpoints before that in that game but Vesley placed a perfect touch from just inside the baseline as the ball dropped dead along the net.
The next game Somdev served at love and got the break back in the sixth when Vesley double faulted at 15-40. All fired up with his effort, Somdev hit three consecutive aces to take a 4-3 lead.
After playing five deuce points and saving a break chance in the ninth game, Somdev wriggled out of that tough contest with his 18th ace. Vesley was serving to stay in the set, saved two set points but double faulted on third to hand Somdev a 2-0 lead.
Vesley could never find a way to challenge Somdev after that as he lost mentally. He dropped serve in fourth to let Somdev lead 3-1 and it was a matter of time before the Indian closed the contest.
Vesley hit a forehand to net on second match point and Somdev threw his racquet in the air out of jubilation.
Too hot to handle
Earlier, Rosol proved too hot to handle for Bhambri. Rosol stamped his class as he thrashed 125th ranked Yuki in one hour and 55 minutes.
The temperature was 31 at the start of the match but neither the conditions nor the game of Yuki proved challenging for the tall Czech, who was ranked as high as 26 last year around the same time.
Rosol served extremely well and hit flat and furious ground strokes, imposing himself on Yuki. Rosol played smartly as he kept points short. He served in the range of 200kmh and sometimes more than that, firing as many as 11 aces in the match.
Yuki put up some resistance in the third set but could not utilise the chances, squandering as many as five break points in the 10th game. The Czech, who beat Rafael Nadal in 2012 Wimbledon second round, fired five service winners in that game alone after ebbing down 0-40, showing his cool temperament under pressure.
Rosol hit 50 winners to Yuki's 21 and made for his six double faults with his huge game. The only time Yuki could trouble the Czech was when he engaged Rosol in long rallies but those were very few as he blunted the Indian's challenge with ease.
Now, India's number two player Somdev Devvarman, ranked 164, plays Czech number one Jiri Vesley, ranked 40. Somdev has not lost a single match on the Centre court and the fans who have turned up to watch India fight would hope that he maintains his impeccable record.
Both Yuki and Rosol began with solid holds with Rosol hitting service winners as big as 210km per hour. In each of the first two games he hit two aces with a speed of more than 200km per hour.
As the 6'5 tall Czech was serving too well, it was crucial for Yuki to hold his own but consistent forehand errors cost him the fifth game. Rosol hit a forehand winner on Yuki's serve at 30-30 to earn the first breakpoint of the match and the Indian youngster buried his forehand on the net on that point to hand the rival team the lead.
Rosol kept serving big and consolidated the lead with solid hold yet again. Unforced errors continued to flow from Yuki's racquet as he smashed one overhead volley long to be down by another breakpoint and double faulted on the next point to hand Rosol a comfortable 5-2 cushion.
Exactly 24 minutes into the match, Rosol was serving for the set and he sealed it with a backhand winner. It was one-way traffic in the second set as Rosol pounded Yuki, who managed to get on board only once.
With two consecutive breaks and two easy holds Rosol rushed to a 4-0 lead and with one more break closed the set in his favour. Yuki played little better in the third set, managing to get his first break of the match when Rosol hit a forehand long.
However he kept the advantage by dropping serve in the sixth. Having Rosol down 0-40 was the best chance for Yuki to put pressure and get a break but he squandered all five chances.
Serving to stay in the match, he buried a backhand to net to give the Czech two match points and then hit a forehand on the net to give the visiting team a 1-0 lead in the tie.