India crush Denmark 4-0 to seal spot in Davis Cup World Group 1 stage -
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India crush Denmark 4-0 to seal spot in Davis Cup World Group 1 stage

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Khel Today Bureau

New Delhi: A dominant India conquered the grass courts of the Delhi Gymkhana Club (DGC) with a 4-0 annihilation of Denmark, as the hosts booked their spot in the Davis Cup World Group 1 stage after sealing the Playoff tie against the Danes in a commanding fashion here on Saturday.

Building on their 2-0 lead after Ramkumar Ramanathan and Yuki Bhambri won their respective singles on Friday, India’s doubles team of Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan came from a set down to put it across the Danish pair of Frederik Nielsen and Mikael Torpegaard 6(3)-7(7), 6-4, 7(7)-6(4) in a three-setter to take an unassailable lead of 3-0. The victory ensured the hosts’ qualification for the World Group 1 stage.

Later, in the reverse singles, which was no more than a dead rubber, Ramkumar edged past Johannes Ingildsson, 5-7, 7-5, 10-7 to make it 4-0 for the home favourites. The fifth tie was not played. It was a complete dominance by India as the hosts rounded off their Davis Cup World Group Playoff 1 campaign with an impeccable verdict.

On Saturday, the Danes took the field with hopes of an unlikely turnaround and they even came close to surprising the hosts when Nielsen and Torpegaard eked out the first set narrowly in their doubles duel with Bopanna and Sharan. However, the Indians bounced back in style given the seriousness of the occasion and won the next two sets after staving off a tough challenge from the visitors to take India to safety with an insurmountable lead. The Indian duo did not allow the burden of expectations to get the better of their emotions and stuck to the strategy as planned by the team management to engage the opponents in as many rallies as possible to wear them out.

In the reverse singles, Ramkumar, too, had his anxious moments when Ingildsson pocketed the first set. But Ramkumar, coming off the back of an impressive victory in the opening singles, used the low bounce of the DGC to his advantage to seal the tie in India’s favour.

Speaking about the hosts’ brilliant campaign, India’s non-playing captain Rohit Rajpal credited Bopanna and Sharan’s strategy to mix up their serves to flummox the Danes. “We were mixing our serves and I was telling Rohan again and again to mix which worked in our favour. I am pretty happy with the team. Ramkumar is always there and it’s good to have Yuki back in our squad. Against Finland, the game was close but against Croatia, it was closer. The team’s think tank comprising Zeeshan Ali, Rohan and I had prepared well for this tie and I am happy that it all went well for us.”

Rohan Bopanna, on his part, added that Friday’s twin victories by Ramkumar and Yuki had put a lot of pressure on the visitors. “The biggest thing was that we had a 2-0 lead and pressure was on the opposition side. We started off well and served accordingly. Torpegaard gave back a few good returns. But, in doubles, even small chances sometimes can create big chances. A few good returns and saving match points were our main strength. Especially like to thank the crowd which was a big support to us.”

India’s coach Zeeshan Ali expressed happiness over the team’s performance. “Every player is different…Rohan is good at serve; Divij doesn’t have that strong serve but they always combine well. The idea was to get advantage from those big serves. The two played a solid tie-breaker in the third set. The shot of the match was Rohan’s backhand volley.”

Denmark’s captain Nielsen rued the missed chances and said the low bounce of the DGC made the returns difficult. “The serve goes off quickly and gets very low which makes it hard to return. Indians made good use of the grass surface and when the court is so fast, it’s difficult to hit with that speed. Unfortunately, the game didn’t go as we would have thought.”

Torpegaard added: “My approach to the game is simple ‘see the ball, hit the ball’. Sometimes I get lucky with it. Happy with the way I played the doubles, it felt really good to play the Davis cup with some great players. I am happy even being on the losing side.”

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