This is the nation’s second consecutive defeat in the campaign.
Team India suffered a 3-1 loss against Finland in the Davis Cup tie away from home at the Espoo Metro Areena. The match took place on the hard indoor court on Finnish soil. Coming into day 2 with a 2-0 deficit, Indian tennis stars needed to win the doubles match to keep their hopes alive.
However, Rohan Bopanna and Ramkumar Ramanathan were unable to keep the tie alive, losing the match in straight sets. India’s non-playing captain Rohit Rajpal changed the doubles combination at the last minute. Initially, Bopanna was set to partner Divij Sharan against former world No. 1 Henri Kontinen and Harri Heliovaara. However, left-handed Sharan was replaced by Ramanathan in a last-minute change.
The move failed to pay any dividends as the Indian duo lost 6-7, 6-7 to the Finnish pair in one hour and 38 minutes. After doing all the hard work, the Indians cracked during crucial junctures of the match. Therefore, the opening set went to a tie-breaker and the Finns won it with ease to take the lead in the match.
In the second game of the second set, Ramanathan’s forehand winner set up the first break chance for India and they converted when Kontinen could not return Bopanna’s backhand. The Indians went up 40-0 on Heliovaara’s serve but blew away four breakpoints to let the rivals hold for a 4-4 scoreline as another tie-breaker followed. Heliovaara pulled off a sensational forehand winner at 5-2 to get to the first match point and it was all over for India when Ramanathan could not return the ball in the next point.
Gunneswaran wins dead rubber
Prajnesh Gunneswaran is the only Indian to have won a match in this Davis Cup tie. He got the better of Patrik Niklas-Salminen in the singles matchup. Initially, Gunneswaran’s opponent was Finnish star Emil Ruusuvuori. However, with the outcome of the match already confirmed, Finland decided to field their reserve player instead.
Having reached a career-high ranking of 75 in 2019, the 6’2″ left-hander has had a few injury setbacks in the last two seasons. On Saturday, he displayed a sense of authority on the court. The match lasted for just 67 minutes. The 31-year-old Indian finally triumphed 6-3, 7-5 to restore some pride for India. In doing so, Gunneswaran ensured that India didn’t come back home empty-handed from Finland.
India had started the 2020-21 Davis Cup campaign with a 1-3 defeat to Croatia in the qualifying round. With this defeat against Finland, the Indians will now drop into the play-offs zone of Group I for the 2022 season.
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