Underdogs India trail hosts Croatia in Davis Cup

Gunneswaran and Ramanathan lose singles matches after tough fights; Leander Paes and Rohan Bopanna to take court on Saturday.

By Rahul Venkat ·

The Indian tennis team trailed 0-2 on the first day of their Davis Cup qualifier against Croatia as Prajnesh Gunneswaran and Ramkumar Ramanathan lost their singles matches against Borna Gojo and Marin Cilic respectively.

It was a poor note for the Indian tennis team to start their Davis Cup sojourn on as Prajnesh Gunneswaran fell to Croatia’s Borna Gojo 6-3, 4-6, 2-6 in the first match.

Gunneswaran had begun well in the first set, dominant with his first serves, winning most of his points and not giving any break points to Borna Gojo. His opponent had replaced the injured Borna Coric in the Croatia squad.

The Indian tennis ace even induced some unforced errors in the first set with smart shot-making and closed out the set when he broke his opponent in the seventh and ninth game.

However, the tide turned in the second set as the 22-year-old Croatian pushed Gunneswaran to the edge with powerful strokes and broke him in the first game itself, after six attempts. Prajnesh Gunneswaran held his serve after that, but the early cede of advantage meant that he ended up losing the set.

The third set was a lop-sided affair as Borna Gojo, with his sheer energy, overcame the senior Indian pro with ease to give Croatia a 1-0 lead in the Davis Cup tie after a match that lasted almost two hours.

Ramanathan shows fighting spirit

The second blow of the day for the Indian tennis team came later in the day as Ramkumar Ramanathan fell 6-7 (8), 6-7(8) to the 6’6” Croatian Marin Cilic. 

The Indian tennis ace matched the 2014 US Open winner Cilic point-for-point in the first set. With some rapid serves of his own, Ramanathan tried to overshadow the Croatian, known for his booming serves himself. 

Both players were unrelenting with their service as none of them allowed the other a break point during the first set, forcing it into a tie-break. Ramkumar Ramanthan, eager to wrest back the advantage, was keeping up with Marin Cilic well but eventually lost the first set 6-7 (8) after an hour of scintillating tennis.

The second set followed a similar pattern as the Indian tennis player and the Croatian were tied at 2-2 after holding their serves in the first four games. However, Marin Cilic could have inflicted a first break of serve in the next one but could not capitalise on two of his opportunities.

Ramkumar Ramanathan was also presented with two break points by Marin Cilic in the sixth game but he failed to convert them. The match moved to a tie-break for the second consecutive set thereafter.

With another terrific display on both sides of the net, the duo managed to hold serve even in the tie-break up to right points each before Marin Cilic finally managed to get himself a 9-8 lead from which he held his serve to double Croatia’s advantage.

What next for Indian tennis at the Davis Cup

The Indian tennis team will have an opportunity to bounce back in the tie against Croatia on Saturday as Prajnesh Gunneswaran and Ramkumar Ramanathan take on Marin Cilic and Borna Gojo respectively in the singles while the veteran Indian tennis pair of Leander Paes and Rohan Bopanna face Mate Pavic and Franko Skugor in the sole doubles match-up.

Where you can watch the Davis Cup

The Davis Cup qualifiers between the Indian tennis team and Croatia at Zagreb will be broadcast on DSport. The matches will begin at 7.30 pm IST.