Bopanna, Myneni lose doubles; India still in hunt for Davis Cup finals

Rohan Bopanna and Saketh Myneni lost the do-or-die doubles rubber against Serbia as India conceded an unassailable 0-3 lead to lose the Davis Cup World Group Play-off tie.

India's Rohan Bopanna and Saketh Myneni lost 6-7(5) 2-6 6-7(4) to a relatively inexperienced pair of Nikola Milojevic and Danilo Petrovic.   -  R Ragu

Rohan Bopanna and Saketh Myneni lost the do-or-die doubles rubber against Serbia as India conceded an unassailable 0-3 lead to lose the Davis Cup World Group Play-off tie in Kraljevo on Saturday.

However India can still have a shot at the qualification for the Davis Cup finals in five months from now as per new rules.

After losing both the singles on Friday, India needed a win to stay alive but Bopanna and Myneni, who replaced originally nominated N Sriram Balaji, could not keep the country afloat. They lost 6-7(5) 2-6 6-7(4) to a relatively inexperienced pair of Nikola Milojevic and Danilo Petrovic after two hours and 22 minutes at Kraljevo Sports Venue.

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The reverse singles, scheduled for Sunday, have now become inconsequential. Bopanna and Myneni, who recently made a comeback to the competitive tennis after an injury, had a set point in the third set, serving at 5-3 but dropped serve.

The Serbians did not give the Indians any more chances and sealed the tie in the hosts' favour. India has now lost three ties in a row to Serbia, which did not have its top players.

India was expected to do better, since reigning US Open Champion Novak Djokovic opted out and Filip Krajinovic had pulled out due to an injury.

A new Davis Cup format means that India will not have to go back to Asia/Oceania Group immediately. Instead, it will compete in a 24-team qualifying event (home and away format) in February, 2019 to qualify for the 18-team Davis Cup Finals, to be held either in Madrid or Lille from November 18-24, next year.

The 12 winners will qualify while four semi-finalists from the 2018 season will get direct entry. The ITF will award two wild cards for the inaugural Davis Cup finals. The Indian team is ranked 20th but considering that four semifinalists will not be part of the qualifying event, India will be at 16th.

The two worst teams in the qualifiers will go back to the zonal competition.