India fail to make it to Davis Cup World Group (Lead)

September 21st, 2008 - 9:49 pm ICT by IANS  

Bucharest, Sep 21 (IANS) India lost both their reverse singles Sunday to hand Romania a place in the Davis Cup World Group.Prakash Amritraj toiled hard but could not match the might and class of Victor Hanescu, caving in 2-6, 3-6, 1-6. Somdev Devvarman, in the dead rubber, came close to pulling off a consolation win against Victor Crivoi before going down 6-4, 5-7, 3-6 which gave the hosts a thumping 4-1 win at Bucuresti Stadium.

“We are disappointed but we will try again next year,” said Prakash.

This was the Romania’s third consecutive win against India after victories in 1971 and 1969. India’s only victory against Romania came way back in 1922. India, who were aiming to qualify for the World Group after a decade, will once again compete in the Asia Oceania Zone in next year’s competition.

India, which lost both its singles matches against the hosts to trail 0-2 on the opening day, were given a fresh lease of life by doubles experts Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi’s straight sets victory over Adrian Cruciat and Horia Tecau Saturday.

It was thus left to Prakash, who played the first of the two reverse singles Sunday, to carry forward the fight in the World Group play-off.

The 24-year-old sprinted all over the court, tried to unsettle the 67-ranked Hanescu by charging to the net and even flung his racquet in despair as he saw the match slip out of his hands. But the Indian could not come up with enough shots to combat the Romanian’s solid baseline play.

In fact, Prakash’s tendency to rush to the net made him predictable and added to this, his inability to put away easy volleys didn’t help either. It didn’t take long for Hanescu to take the first set as he broke in the fifth game after the Indian saved two break points. He broke him again in the seventh to take the first set comfortably.

“I was not able to put pressure on him and was very defensive. I have realised that I need to work on a lot of things on clay,” Prakash said.

Things didn’t improve in the second, with Prakash being broken in the first game. The Indian did have a chance in the sixth game, setting up a break point with a well-placed back hand slice but could not convert. The Romanian cracked Prakash’s serve in the ninth when he failed to pitch in an easy volley.

Prakash lost the steam in the decider and was broken twice as Romania took an unassailable 3-1 lead and retained their place in the World Group.

In the inconsequential rubber Somdev came up with a gritty display and looked set for a consolation win before he lost the plot completely.

Somdev took the first set breaking Crivoi in the third and fifth games. Crivoi, though, staged a dramatic fightback when Somdev served for the match in the 10th game. The Romanian broke back and then went on to win eight games in a row to make it set-all and go up 5-0 in the decider. Somdev was overpowered by the Romanian’s booming ground strokes and looked clueless.

The 23-year-old Indian broke back in the seventh game but by then, it was too late.

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