Rafael Nadal filled the R. K. Khanna Stadium but disappointed everyone by pulling out from the first singles, reportedly with a wrist niggle.
Feliciano Lopez was quite efficient, even though he slipped a bit, as he tamed Ramkumar Ramanathan 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 to put Spain 1-0 ahead against India in the Davis Cup World Group play-off.
The overflowing stands were a rare view. Many were stranded outside the stadium, clutching their entry passes in vain. Ramkumar did well to give the crowd a lot to cheer for, albeit in brief spells.
Later, Saketh Myneni played his classy game in patches, but was not allowed to stay on court for long by the fluent game of David Ferrer who cruised to a 6-1, 6-2, 6-1 victory to give Spain 2-0 lead on the opening day.
Captain Anand Amritraj applauded Ferrer’s game and said that he was surprised that he had not won a Grand Slam title so far.
Other Results:>World Group playoffs
The proceedings did give raise hopes of an interesting doubles on Saturday evening with seven-time Olympian Leander Paes partnering Saketh against the Olympic doubles gold medallists Nadal an Marc Lopez.
Even though he had withdrawn, unwilling to stretch his wrist in the competition, Nadal did have a good training stint.
Twitter was abuzz after Nadal was replaced for the first rubber an hour before the start, but at the people had no time to react. In fact, the stadium was packed before the first point was played in the evening.
Quite a good sport, the 14-time Grand Slam champion Nadal stayed glued to his seat on the sidelines, cheering his team, rarely getting up from his seat, right through the battle that lasted two hours and 26 minutes. The crowd at times called out to him in desperation.
World No. 26 Lopez stepped up his game whenever required to march ahead. He had the match in control, even though the 21-year-old Ramkumar managed to turn the third set around with a break of serve in the eighth game.
Lopez started on the slow gear, he played sharp whenever required to get the breaks of serve, in the fifth game of the first set and the first game of the second, to be on course.
Ramkumar, who kept challenging most of the calls without much success, played with a lot more purpose and conviction in the third set, especially after he took a medical time-out after five games.
He was particularly charged up in the eighth game as he rallied briskly to force two breakpoints. Lopez squeezed his way past trouble with a strong game, but Ramkumar had a fortuitous turn as his backhand slice clipped the net chord in setting up a third breakpoint. Ramkumar earned the break after a rally on the next point, to bring the crowd alive. It was some celebration, and Ramkumar did exceptionally well to close out the set in the next game.
Both the players thanked the spectators for providing such a lively atmosphere, and Lopez said that he would love to see the crowd come back on Saturday.
Spain leads India 2-0 (Feliciano Lopez bt Ramkumar Ramanathan 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 6-1. David Ferrer bt Saketh Myneni 6-1, 6-2, 6-1 )
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