India mounted an impressive comeback from 0-2 down to a 3-2 win over China in the Asia/Oceania Group I second round tie in Tianjin in the Davis Cup. Battling against extreme harsh weather and subdued in the agony of the brutal losses on the first day, India braved it all to emerge from the throes of the dark.
It is the second time that India has risen from a 0-2 deficit, the first time in 2010 when they roared back and clawed up to beat Brazil in Chennai.
Rohan Bopanna and Leander Paes clawed back from a set down
With Ramkumar Ramanathan and Sumit Nagal both suffering straight sets defeats on day 1 of the Davis Cup, it all came down upon the veterans Leander Paes and Rohan Bopanna who paired up in the doubles to infuse life into the tie for India. Putting their differences aside, Paes and Bopanna crafted a brilliant win 5-7, 7-6(5), 7-6(3) to bring the country on board against the Chinese pair of Mao Xin Gong and Ze Zhang.
The match began on a slow note as the Indians dropped the first set. But the duo maintained their calm demeanor and fought valiantly taking the second set in a thrilling tiebreaker and forcing a decider. The third set also saw the Chinese fighting closely. But a brilliant 73% first serve points won helped the Indians finally clinch the win over the hosts in 2 hours and 24 minutes.
The win was historic for more than one reason. Not only did it bring back India in contention of the tie again but also etched the 44-year-old Leander Pae's name as the most successful player in Davis Cup with his 43rd win. Paes was tied at 42 wins with the Italian great Nicola Pietrangeli for long and finally edged past to go one more than him today.
Ramkumar Ramanathan dishes out a great performance.
World no. 132, India's second best Ramkumar Ramanathan also displayed some gutsy tennis to wash out his woes of the previous day's loss. The Chennai star registered a 7-6(4), 6-3 win in an hour and 25 minutes over Di Wu, who replaced Zhang after the marathon doubles. Raining down 11 aces and breaking Wu's serve 5 times, Ramkumar dished out an impressive performance over the Chinese. Winning a total of 78 points, the Indian won the Rubber 4 and helped India tie at 2-2 with the hosts.
Prajnesh Gunneswaran's win was the twist in the tale
World No 263, Prajnesh Gunneswaran was a master card that was played by the Indian Captain Mahesh Bhupathi who had quoted this morning on his Instagram page, "You didn't come this far to only come this far." It was a fine move by Bhupathi which turned the tables for India and how.
The Indian routed China's rising star, Wu Yibing with some authoritative display of brilliant tennis to help India win the tie against the Chinese. The World no. 332 and Junior US Open champ, Yibing could barely find his feet against the Indian's attack. In just an hour and 5 minutes, Prajnesh defeated Yibing by thundering down 7 aces and winning 59 total points.
With the losses in both singles rubbers yesterday, it had looked impossible for India. While Ramanathan fell to the 18-year-old Yibing 6-7(4), 4-6, the 20-year-old Nagal was outclassed 4-6, 1-6 by Ze Zhang.
Day two, however, was absolutely delightful as the Indians turned the tide and finally emerged victorious.
A delighted Rohan Bopanna tweeted after winning the tie, "Yesterday was a setback being down 0-2, Today it was a setup for that comeback & boy was it a great feeling to win all the 3 matches today to clinch the tie. This indeed is one of the greatest Davis Cup away tie comebacks victory for me personally."
For India too, this win shall remain the most memorable win in Davis Cup with wins in all three rubbers to register a scintillating comeback ever.
With this win, India now advance to the World Group Play-offs along with Uzbekistan from the Asia/Oceania zone.