Davis Cup: Finland off to a good start against India

India will have a mountain to climb on Saturday. It will start with the doubles rubber featuring Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan against Henri Kontinen and Harri Heliovaara.

Davis Cup tennis, Otto Virtanen and Prajnesh Gunneswaran, on the eve of the tie in Finland. - FINNISH TENNIS ASSOCIATION

Otto Virtanen defied his ranking of 419, played a solid game and defeated the 165th-ranked Prajnesh Gunneswaran 6-3, 7-6(1) to give Finland a flying start in the Davis Cup World Group tie at the Espoo Metro Arena on Friday.

The 74th-ranked Emil Ruusuvuori, Finnish No. 1, made it 2-0 beating Ramkumar Ramanathan 6-4, 7-5.

India will have a mountain to climb on Saturday. It will start with the doubles rubber featuring Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan against Henri Kontinen and Harri Heliovaara.

The 20-year-old Virtanen, figuring in just his second Davis Cup tie, played like a champion. He served well, stroked with conviction and retained his composure despite facing a set-point in the 12th game of the second set before crossing the finish line in an hour and 25 minutes.

Prajnesh Gunneswaran in action during the Davis Cup contest on Friday. - FINNISH TENNIS ASSOCIATION

A shaky sixth game of the opening set, when Virtanen produced a couple of sharp winners, saw Prajnesh lose serve and the initiative.

Virtanen saved a break-point in the next game to tighten his grip over the set and served out the set in the ninth game.

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The 31-year-old Prajnesh played a lot better in the second set but failed to capitalise on the chances that came his way. He saved three break-points in the ninth game to keep his nose in front but missed an opportunity in the 11th game.

Virtanen then saved a set-point with an ace in the 12th game and took the set to a tie-breaker. The Finn kept his cool, pulling away from the Indian and winning 7-1 much to the delight of the sparse gathering in the indoor arena.

Virtanen served 10 aces and converted one of eight break-points. The trend of losing to opponents ranked much lower than him continued for Prajnesh, who had also lost to Borna Gojo of Croatia in March last year.

The second match went along expected lines as the 22-year-old Ruusuvuori dominated the 187th-ranked Ramkumar. The Indian, despite being involved in many good rallies, could not find an opening against the solid Finn.

The results: Finland leads India 2-0 [Otto Virtanen bt Prajnesh Gunneswaran 6-3, 7-6(1); Emil Ruusuvuori bt Ramkumar Ramanathan 6-4, 7-5].

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