Davis Cup: Prajnesh loses to Lajovic, Serbia leads 2-0

Prajnesh Gunneswaran lost his match to Serbia's Dusan Lajovic 4-6, 3-6, 4-6. After Ramkumar's loss earlier in the day, India now trails 2-0.

Prajnesh Gunneswaran in action during his semifinal match at the Asian Games.   -  PTI

Good evening, welcome to Sportstar's live blog of India's Davis Cup World Group playoff tie against Serbia, sans Novak Djokovic.

Read the preview of the tie which is being played over three days, from September 14 to 16.  There is nothing to be lost in the tie as the teams have already secured a spot in the qualifying round of the revamped Davis Cup in 2019. So the teams can play freely irrespective of the result. Read more about the new Davis Cup format here.

India lost its first two rubbers against Serbia and trail 2-0 in the tie.

First, Laslo Djere defeated Ramkumar Ramanathan 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (2), 6-2. Despite winning the first game 6-3, Ramkumar failed to convert crucial points in the later games as the Serb staged a defiant comeback.

Prajnesh Gunneswaran followed his compatriot's mistakes. He failed to convert crucial break points (won only 2 out of 9) and went down in straight set to Serbia's Dusan Lajovic.

Next up, Rohan Bopanna and Sriram Balaji face Danilo Petrovic and Nikola Milovejic in a doubles match on Saturday.

Key Highlights

11:21pm: GAME, SET AND MATCH DUSAN LAJOVIC! Prajnesh failed to convert crucial break points, much like Ramkumar earlier, and struggled against a superior Serb to go down in straight games 4-6, 3-6, 4-6.

11:20pm: Advantage Lajovic! And it's another match point.

11:18pm: Prajnesh saves two match points to bring the game to deuce.

11:14pm: Prajnesh wins this game and takes the score to 5-4. But Lajovic will be serving for the match next.

11:11pm: Dusan Lajovic has been getting done with his service games pretty quickly. Prajnesh stretched him a bit on this one, but he managed to hold on. He leads 5-3.

11:06pm: Prajnesh's delightful touch just squeezes the ball over the net and he wins the game. He still trails 4-3 but one good game can turn the match around.

11:02pm: Lajovic is not going to surrender that upper hand he's had over this game from the start. He holds another service game to go 4-2 up. Another break point for him could seal the fate of the match.

11:00pm: Prajnesh won't give up soon though. He wins his service game. When's he gonna get a break? 3-2 to Lajovic now.

10:57pm: Things are lookoing easy for Lajovic here. He easily wins another service game and leads 3-1 now. It's a long way back for Prajnesh.

10:52pm: Prajnesh is able to hold his serve this time. It looked like he'd concede another game from serve, but with a precise forehand winner and an ace, he wins to take the score to 2-1 in the third set.

10:50pm: Lajovic holds his serve to lead 2-0. Prajnesh tried to make a comeback, getting to a duece, but the Serb's big ace was just too good.

10:46pm: Prajnesh starts off the set by losing his first service game. Lajovic leads 1-0.

THIRD SET

10:37pm: Lajovic wins the set 6-3! Prajnesh was fighting hard to keep the game alive. Lajovic looked shaky as Prajnesh got to a break point but he couldn't convert it.

10:36pm: Prajnesh is able to hold serve this time too, as Lajovic skies a return. Must have reached the top tier, the ball. 5-3

10:33pm: Lajovic doesn't let Prajnesh find his way back. He holds his serve again to lead 5-2.

10:30pm: Prajnesh holds his serve this time! Lajovic still leads 4-2, but Prajnesh has a chance to find his way back into this game.

10:26pm: Lajovic leads 4-1! He holds his serve again, giving Prajnesh no chance of a comeback.

10:23pm: First break of the second set. Lajovic breaks Prajnesh to go 3-1 up. The Indian is in trouble. His forehands are missing the mark.

10:21pm: Lajovic hold his serve after 3 dueces to go 2-1 up in the game.

10:20pm: We know Prajnesh has a huge forehand. Winning two points with its help, he gets to break point.

10:15pm: What a point from Prajnesh! He just gets to Lajovic's drop and lobs it over the Serb. Lajovic nets it. Prajnesh saves a break point and goes on to win the game. 1-1.

10:11pm: Lajovic takes the first game of the second set. The Serb played a fine drop shot and smashed the return at the net during the second point.

SECOND SET

10:06pm: Game and set for Lajovic (6-4) ! Disappointing from Prajnesh as he plays consecutive unforced errors to give the Serb the set.

10:03pm: Game to Prajnesh! The hard-hitting Indian saves two set point to stay alive in the set. 4-5 now.

10:01pm: Prajnesh is on break point. His third of the game.

10:00pm: It's an exciting game of back and forths here. Prajnesh has saved two set points so far. He's not been able to convert his two break points either.

9:59pm: Prajnesh squanders another break point and is now on the verge of losing the set. Second set point for Lajovic.

9:57pm: With an unforced error from Lajovic, Prajnesh is back on break point after saving a set point.

9:56pm: Duece! Lajovic's drop shot is too good for Prajnesh. The Serb saves a break point.

9:54pm: The game is on! Prajnesh comes back from 30-0 down and is now on break point.

9:53pm: And he breaks! Crucial point in the match as Lajovic now leads 5-3 and is serving for the set.

9:51pm: Lajovic plays a sweet forehand winner and gets to break point.

9:48pm: Lajovic plays a wild forehand and Prajnesh just gets there but nets it. Lajovic wins the game. 4-3 to the Serb.

9:46pm: After two breaks in the first three games of the match, Lajovic and Prajnesh have held the rest of their games. Prajnesh wins the game to level at 3-3.

9:40pm: Lajovic is back on top. With a powerful ace, he holds his serve to go 3-2 up.

9:39pm: Prajnesh levels the set at 2-2. 

9:35pm: And Prajnesh gets one back. With some powerful winners and an unforced error from Lajovic, the Indian wins a break point. The score is 2-1.

9:31pm: Lajovic breaks Prajnesh to go 2-0 up in the first set. Prajnesh netted twice on the way to losing his service game. He's already made things difficult for him.

9:27pm: Laovic wins his first service game. Prajnesh had a chance to break after two unforced errors from Lajovic, but Lajovic pulled it back to hold serve.

9:24pm: Lajovic serves first. Serbia's highest ranked player wins the first point of the match.

Next up is Prajnesh Gunneswaran, who faces Serbia's Dusan Lajovic.

8:51 pm: Game, set and match Laslo Djere. The Serbian staged a strong comeback after losing the first set to defeat Ramkumar Ramanathan 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (2), 6-2 and gives Serbia the early advantage. Ramkumar simply struggled to win the crucial breakpoints and managed to claim only two out of eight such opportunities, which turned out to be the difference.

8:46 pm: Djere breaks again! The Serbian has stepped up his game and plays a down the line slice to break Ramkumar's serve for the second consecutive time and soar to a 5-2 lead. He will now serve for the match.

8:40 pm:
This is rather disappointing. Ramkumar had a chance to break right back but he squanders the opportunity and the Serb now leads 4-2 in the fourth set.

8:30 pm: We have the first break of the fourth set! Djere breaks Ramkumar's serve and takes the game fifth game to lead 3-2.

8:24 pm: Djere is on fire! He saves two break points and produces two classy forehand winners to bring the set back to level terms. 

8:17 pm: The Indian is sticking to his tried and tested serve and volley combination. He's been a tad erratic at the net but has won all the crucial points. He leads 2-1.

8:15 pm: Love hold! Djere takes the game 40-0 to make 1-1.

8:12 pm: Ramkumar gets off to a winning start in the fourth set, takes the first game 40-30.

Stay tuned as we return with live updates from the fourth set.

8:04 pm: There's the set. Djere takes the tiebreak 7-2 and the third set with it. He leads two sets to one.

8:03 pm: Ramkumar's forehand sails past the baseline and Djere is up 6-2 now.

8:02 pm: The Serbian leads 4-2 at the changeover.

8:00 pm: The Indian finally wins a point. He trails the Serbian 1-4.

7:59 pm: Things aren't looking good for Ramkumar. Djere broke both his service points and has raced to a 3-0 lead.

7:57 pm: Yes he does! Ramkumar finally wins the game to push the tie to a tie-breaker.

7:56 pm: An unforced error from Djere gives Ramkumar the advantage for the fourth time in this game. Can he take it?

7:54 pm: Ramkumar misses another chance to seal the game. Deuce number four now.

7:53 pm: This has been an astounding game so far. Ramkumar saves a break point and drops a game point too! We're onto our third deuce of the game.

7:46 pm: Second serve ace, how often do we see that? Djere claims the game 40-0, for the third time, to take a 6-5 lead in the third set.

7:43 pm: Game, Ramkumar. He fires a huge serve to take the game 40-15. With the scoreline reading 5-5, the players are now in a race to get to seven games first.

7:40 pm: ACE! Djere sends a huge serve far and wide, well beyond Ramkumar's reach to win his second consecutive service game 40-0.

7:38 pm: He holds on! Ramkumar takes the game 40-30 and punches the air in delight.

7:33 pm: Djere calling the shots here. He plays a delicate drop shot to clinch the game 40-0 and takes a 4-3 lead.

7:20 pm: Ramkumar comes back strong, breaks back immediately at 15-40 to be back on serve in the third set.  

7:15 pm:  A long rally ends with Ramkumar's backhand slice catching the net and with it, the Indian concedes a break. It's 0-2 in the third set. 

7:06 pm:  Ramkumar loses his service game to lose the second set 6-4. Djere had two breakpoints, but against an erring Ramkumar, he managed to seal the deal in the first opportunity.

7:00 pm: A long service game, but Djere holds on. Ramakumar will serve to stay in the set.

6:55 pm: Ramkumar with some classic serve and volley here. He sends a thunderous serve and follows it up by rushing to the net to finish the point. Scoreline reads 4-4.

6:50 pm: Djere holds serve to take the seventh game and leads 4-3.

6:46 pm: It's been quite an uncharacteristic service game from Ramkumar. He has managed to get two successive points with solid backhand returns. It is 3-3 in the second set.

6:40 pm: India's Davis Cup captain Mahesh Bhupathi seems irked by the boisterous crowd, gets the chair umpire to ask the fans not to cheer or make noise during the rallies.

6:30 pm: It looked like Ramkumar was in trouble at 15-30, but manages to stay afloat with a clean game despite faster rallies. The challenge for Ramkumar would be to keep his errors to a bare minimum and wait for his opponent to err. So far so good for the Indian against the higher-ranked Serb. It's 1-1 in the second set.

6:17 pm: Djere's major problem in this match so far has been his high returns which invariably sail long or wide. Ramkumar, the forehand specialist, has been able to capitalise on that and secure the first set 6-3.

6:15 pm: Ramkumar consolidates the lead with a quick service game, but the Serb clings to his serve to stay alive in the first set.

6:06 pm: Ramkumar goes 15-40 up, allows Djere to come back for a deuce. A high and misplaced forehand return however gives India the break. Ramkumar now leads 4-2 in the first set.

6:03 pm: A quick service game from Ramkumar for a 3-2 lead. Djere scrapes his knee as he tumbles while trying to retrieve the ball and takes a medical timeout.

5:57 pm: A good exchange of rallies from both the players. The Serb attempts to go on the offence and charges to the net for a drop. He doesn't get it right and Ramkumar casually lobs it back to the centre of the court to make it 40-40. But Djere comes back with a wide forehand to win the game. 

5:50 pm: Ramkumar comes up with a good serve to win the game and stay ahead. Ramkumar has spent major chunk of his playing career training in Spain, so playing in claycourts wouldn't be a major issue for the Indian. Djere, for his part, considers clay as his favourite playing surface. So no clear advantage here.

5:50 pm: Ramkumar tries to return an acute cross-court from the net by Djere. He manages to return it, but the ball lands wide to give the Serbian the first breakpoint opportunity of the match. 

5:46 pm: A quick service game from Laslo Djere who is playing his first Davis Cup game. He closes out at love to make it 1-1.

5:43 pm:  Ramkumar serves first. After an initial hiccup, Ramkumar Ramanathan holds on to his serve and wins the first game.

5:30 pm: World No. 135 Ramkumar Ramanathan will play against Serbia's Laslo Djere in the opening match. Just a reminder, this will be the last year for the current version of the qualification.