World No.9 Holger Rune drove host Denmark past India 3-2 by winning all his three matches, in singles and doubles, in the Davis Cup World Group play-off tie at Royal Stage, Hillerod.
The 19-year-old Rune was in a spot of bother in the reverse singles against Sumit Nagal on Saturday, after having helped the host nose ahead with a straightforward doubles win in partnership with Johannes Ingildsen, against Rohan Bopanna and Yuki Bhambri.
However, with Sumit serving at 5-3, 40-15, Rune came up with the right shots to wriggle out of trouble. The 25-year-old Sumit, ranked a modest 506, was also unnerved by the favourable flow and lost grip on the contest.
It was a very creditable fare that Sumit had pulled through that far, especially after putting India on par on the opening day by beating August Holmgren in three sets.
Rune was struggling with his serve for most of the first set, facing breakpoints in almost every game. The trend looked to continue till he fired two aces to save two breakpoints at 15-40 in the first game of the second set. Thereafter, there was no way Sumit could catch up with Rune who stepped up his game and intensity to sail through.
It was a disappointment for India that the team could not fight well in doubles, with Bopanna not being at his best.
The fact that captain Rohit Rajpal had planned the contest only on three players, Prajnesh Gunneswaran and Ramkumar Ramanathan cooling their heels, could also be considered injudicious.
Prajnesh was indeed scheduled to play the fifth rubber against Elmer Moeller, but it was only of academic interest, and some entertainment for the gathered fans.
Denmark did enjoy the home advantage of playing on indoor hard courts, in front of adoring fans, but the fact remained that India could have fought better within its limitations.
India had beaten Denmark on grass at the Delhi Gymkhana Club last year, but the current team was considerably enhanced in the presence of a world-class player whose execution matched the expectations of the team.
To his credit, Ingildsen rose to the occasion in partnership with Rune to drive India out of the tie, with a sharp and smart game in doubles.
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