Bengaluru: Prajnesh Gunneswaran and Ramkumar Ramanathan gave India a 2-0 lead over Uzbekistan in the Davis Cup Asia-Oceania Group I Round 2 encounter at the KSLTA Stadium here on Friday, the former beating Sanjar Fayziev and Ramanathan labouring past Temur Ismailov.
The two results gave India and debutant captain Mahesh Bhupathi a winning 2-0 start and left the door open for the hosts to shut out the tie.
After Ramanathan gave India the first tie with a disjointed 6-2, 5-7, 6-2, 7-5 win, Prajnesh produced a performance that was more fluid and decisive to register a 7-5, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 on his debut.
Prajnesh, showing no signs of panic despite the occasion, broke in the 11th game before serving out the first set 7-5.
Fayziev came back into the contest, opening a 3-1 lead in the second and wrapping it up 6-3 with minimum fuss. He continued in the same fashion in the third to break in the first game and save two breaks in the fourth to hold on 3-1.
A double fault in the sixth saw Prajnesh level the contest. With the 22-year-old Fayziev hit by fatigue, the Indian wrapped it up 6-3.
While Fayziev’s movements improved markedly in the fourth set following a medical timeout,he was no match for the left-hander, who broke early and kept up the pace to clinch the rubber.
Earlier, the Indian number one was the definition of inconsistency as he served aces and double faults with consummate ease to finish with 16 aces and 14 double faults to make the match a three hour, 14 minute struggle
While both gave signs of formidable serving early, it didn’t take long before they gave indication of just how small the margin of error was in their game.
Ismailov surrendered his serve in the third game and again in the fifth to concede the set to Ramkumar 2-6.
The second set saw the duo play some solid service games before Ismailov netted a return to give the Indian a 4-3 advantage. Undeterred, he broke right back, with strong assistance from Ram who double faulted twice in a row and netted a volley.
From then on, Ismailov targeted the almost non-existent backhand of the Indian but his inability to land deep crosscourt shots forced him to save two breaks. Ram then hit four double faults in the 12th game and failed to clear the net twice to concede the set 5-7. Just as it seemed like the script was set to continue for the rest of the match, Ismailov called for a medical time out in the third set to deal with a thigh niggle. With his movements restricted, Ramkumar then broke twice and wrapped up the set 6-2.
In the fourth set, Ramkumar, struggling to hold serve in the previous game, broke to take a 6-5 lead but true to his form, double faulted on match point but sealed the win with a volley.