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17 September 2017, 06:39 | Henrietta Morgan
If form can be faithful
In Davis Cup Tennis World Group Play Offs being played at Edmonton in Canada, India and Canada are level with one victory each at the end of day one. Asked to explain change in nomination for the doubles rubber on Saturday, the Indian captain said, "Doubles we feel, this is our best team keeping in mind Saketh not yet physically ready to play a tough five set match". "We were just fortunate enough to get ahead early and stay there".
Ramkumar Ramanathan, ranked 154, will open India's campaign against 22-year-old Brayden Schnur, who ranked 202 in the world, is making his Davis Cup debut. Ramkumar Ramanathan fetched the crucial win but Yuki Bhambri made the day memorable even in defeat as both the countries shared the honours.
The left-handed Shapovalov unleashed his power-packed game from the beginning and Yuki was mostly left to defend but after taking the third set from the home favourite, it was the Indian who dictated the terms. Schnur looked down and out, trailing by two sets to one, and down by a break in the fourth set but found energy to fight when Ramkumar dropped serve immediately. He then secured the match's first break in the seventh game of the second set to take 2-0 lead. Playing the first five set match of his career, Shapovalov showed no nerves and broke Bhambri again after holding his serve.
Tackling Vasek Pospisil, the other singles player named by Canada, should not be a big problem for Yuki and Ramkumar. Shapovalov was 20-2 on aces and 45-21 on total winners. The Canadian found his mojo after breaking Yuki in the third and broke him again in the sixth game to take a 5-1 cushion and clinched the issue with a crushing forehand victor.
Earlier in the day, Ramanathan gave India the advantage after overcoming a jittery start. "It was my first (best of five game)", Schnur said after the match.
Shapovalov eventually won the second set 6-4, putting Canada in a good position to level the tie.
With a point on board, and Sunday's live rubbers a certainty, Rohan Bopanna and Purav Raja will look to put India 2-1 ahead with a win in the doubles rubber. Though Shapovalov won the first two sets, Bhambri fought back, forcing a fifth and decisive set in the near four-hour match before Shapovalov finally came up with the victory.
Pospisil is likely to be Canada's second representative in the singles.
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