Ramkumar Ramanathan double-bageled 17-year-old Muhammed Shoaib in just 42 minutes in the opening singles. (Photo Credit: Twitter)
A ruthless India raced to a 2-0 lead in their Davis Cup tie for the loss of just two games as Ramkumar Ramanathan and Sumit Nagal toyed with their teen rivals from Pakistan in Nur Sultan on Friday. In a mismatch of epic proportion, Ramkumar double-bageled 17-year-old Muhammed Shoaib in just 42 minutes in the opening singles. The only time Shoaib made it look like a match was in the sixth game of the second set when he stretched Ramkumar to two deuce points. Sumit Nagal then earned his first-ever Davis Cup win, beating Hufaiza Mohammed Rehman 6-0 6-2 in the second singles which lasted 64 minutes.
Pakistan badly missed its top players who pulled out, protesting against shifting of the matches to a neutral venue. "I gave my best in every point. We are happy with 2-0 on the first day. Now we are looking forward to see Jee (Jeevan) and Leander fire some bombs tomorrow. Let's get the job done," said Ramkumar, who also thanked fans who had gathered to support them. While the first match was not even a contest, promising Pakistani youngster Hufaiza resisted Nagal as much as possible by engaging the Indian in long rallies. Twice he pushed Nagal to deuce points in the second game of the second set and finally put Pakistan on board by holding the third game after squandering four game points. He returned and dished out another hold, staying close to Nagal.
However, it just delayed the inevitable as Nagal wrapped up the match in the eighth game. "I started decent and finished it pretty strong. Both of us (he and Ram) had lot of fire today. We did not want to lose. They are juniors but they played well and did whatever they could. The guy I played came up with some really good shots. He played to his potential but has a long way to go," said Nagal. "Tomorrow's it's going to be pretty similar (scoreline)," said Nagal.
India's non-playing captain Rohit Rajpal too was pleased with the performance. "It is a fantastic day for India. Ram gave us a nice start, winning in quick time. The second match was little tighter and tough, though it looked simple. Sumit kept the level high and came through with flying colours," he said.
Veteran Leander Paes and debutant Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan will now look to seal the tie when they clash with Hufaiza and Shoaib in the doubles rubber on Saturday. India have never lost a tie to Pakistan in six meetings so far and the trend does not look like changing. A win on Saturday will stretch Paes' record for most number of doubles wins in Davis Cup history. He is leading the chart with 43 wins. "It will be interesting to see how the Pakistan youngsters cope with our world class players. Let's see how it goes," said Rajpal. The winner of the tie will travel to Croatia for the World Group Qualifiers, to be held on March 6-7.