Czechs draw first blood

Lukas Rosol beats Bhambri 6-2, 6-1, 7-5 in an hour and 56 minutes in the first singles rubber

Czech Republic's Lukas Rosol plays a shot against India’s Yuki Bhambri during the first day’s play in the Davis Cup World Group play-off tie in New Delhi on Friday.   -  AP



Lukas Rosol had to fight the crowd, muggy weather and a spirited fightback from Yuki Bhambri to beat the Indian and give the Czech Republic's tennis team a 1-0 lead in the Davis Cup World Group Playoff here on Friday.

With the sun playing hide and seek, the World No.85 had to endure extremely humid conditions to beat Bhambri 6-2, 6-1, 7-5 in an hour and 56 minutes in the first singles rubber on the hard courts of the Delhi Lawn Tennis Association (DLTA) complex.

Bhambri had a good start with clean serves and won the first game rather easily. The first three games went in order with neither player posing any threat.

However, Rosol then stepped it up to win the next five games and take home the set in only 24 minutes. He broke the local boy thrice and held serve to win the set comfortably.

Bhambri failed to match Rosol's on-court movement and ground strokes. However, the heat and humidity was getting to the Czech.

Despite adverse conditions, Rosol continued his rampage; winning the first four games of the second set, and nine in a row. Bhambri, ranked No. 125 in the world, was broken twice and it came as a relief for the Indian when he just about managed to hold serve in the fifth game.

Rosol needed his towel after almost every two points but that did not stop him from winning the sixth and seventh games to clinch the second set in half an hour, pleasing the applauding Czech ambassador Milan Hovorka, who was in attendance.

With support from the home crowd, Bhambri tried to fight back in the third set. The 23-year-old forced errors out of Rosol and broke the Czech for the first time in the third game.

However, it did not take much time for the superior Rosol to break back in the sixth game, levelling the set at 3-3.

This gave the Czech the impetus to up the ante and he clinched the next two games to take home the match.

“He played much better. His ground strokes showed what a top-class player he is, and he belongs to the top rung in the circuit. I couldn't play as well,” Bhambri said.