India had bet big on playing on grass against the Italians. Unfortunately enough, the move didn’t pay off, as Italy lived up to its reputation of winning the singles fixtures. The European team won both the singles of the Davis Cup Qualifiers at the Calcutta South Club on Friday, thus helping them gain a 2-0 lead.
India vs Italy Qualifiers Day 1
Although Andreas Seppi faced some early from resistance Ramkumar Ramanathan. But gradually he was successful in getting past the Indian in straight ties of 6-4, 6-2.
In the opening match of the day as well, a 22-year-old Matteo Berrettini marked his Davis Cup debut with a win, coasting past India No.1 tennis player Prajnesh Gunneswaran in sets of 6-4 6-3.
With a 0-2 deficit, India’s doubles pair of Divij Sharan and Rohan Bopanna are in a do-or-die. The next fixtures of the qualifiers will be played on Saturday.
Italy’s top-ranked singles player Marco Cecchinato will be paired with the 2015 Australian Open winner Simone Bolelli in the doubles.
Although the odds of making a stunning comeback are high, India can take confidence from a similar situation last year, when the team had bounced to defeat China 3-2 in the Asia/Oceania Group I rubber.
Italy went ahead with Berrettini instead of Marco Cecchinato, their top-ranked and World No. 19 player. Although he had made it to the second round of Wimbledon last year, Marco was better qualified for the role.
Prajnesh vs Berrettini
However, the youngster rarely disappointed his selectors in the match. Breaking Prajnesh’s first serve itself, Berrettini quickly went to make it 15-40 with a solid forehand handing him the breakpoint. He started the second set with another sublime volley at the net, leaving the Indian helpless. Berrettini continued to dish out superb groundstrokes to make life difficult for Prajnesh.
Although he was getting an impressive crowd, nerves had started to get the better of the latter, who was in the game with serve until the seventh game. Berrettini required little efforts to make it 5-3 as he again broke Prajnesh in the ninth game.
Although the 29-year-old capitalized on two early errors by the Italian to make it 30-all, Matteo was adept enough to secure a match point.
Prajnesh hit a forehand shot right down the middle of the net to concede the match to Berrettini and thus the massive 2-0 advantage to the Italians. Last year, Matteo had beaten Prajnesh in the 2018 Chengdu ATP.
Ramkumar Ramanathan vs Andreas Seppi
Earlier in the day, Andreas Seppi managed to overcome early hiccups to beat Ramkumar Ramanathan in two straight sets, to hand Italy a 1-0 lead.
Although World No. 37 was sluggish in the first set, he improved in the second set to conclude the game with a 6-4, 6-2 achieved over one hour and 11 minutes.
Italy in front!
Mateo Berrettini seals a lead for Italy 64 63.
— Davis Cup (@DavisCup) February 1, 2019