Saketh, Ramkumar give India a 2-0 lead

India showcased its fighting spirit as Saketh Myneni limped to victory against Yong-Kyu Lim after debutant Ramkumar Ramanathan had controlled his nerves admirably for a victory against Seong Chan Hong.

Ramkumar Ramanathan won on his Davis Cup debut to give India 1-0 lead.   -  Akhilesh Kumar

The rain held back, but the humidity got to the players. The Davis Cup Asia-Oceania group-1 tie between India and South Korea tested the players' stamina than their skill.

India showcased its fighting spirit as Saketh Myneni limped to victory against Yong-Kyu Lim after debutant Ramkumar Ramanathan had controlled his nerves admirably for a victory against Seong Chan Hong.

Both matches did not finish, as both Koreans retired in the final set of the two matches. As the Indian captain Anand Amritraj summed up at the end of the day, "whoever stood, won."

Saketh, in the first five-set match of his career, beat Yong-Kyu Lim 6-1 3-6 6-4 3-6 5-2 in three hours and 10 minutes, as the latter fell to the ground, owing to cramps, at 15-15 in the eighth game of the final set. Eventually, the 25-year-old Korean had to be stretchered off.

It was a courageous performance by Saketh in that fifth set as he dropped only two points on his serve. He had collapsed on the court, with cramps, at 30-30 in the ninth game of the fourth set.

The chair umpire Ali Katebi gave point penalties to Saketh, who was in no position to stand up and continue the contest, and that resulted in the set going to the Korean.

Saketh had started in a vibrant fashion, winning the first set 6-1 in 22 minutes, but had lost the momentum in the second set, which complicated matters.

Saketh served 21 aces and nine doublefaults and converted six of 16 breakpoints. The Korean, ranked a modest 626, had 11 aces and seven doublefaults.

Despite all the struggle in the climax, both the players put on display a fantastic spell of grass court tennis.

In comparison, there was not much drama in the first match. It was the Korean who stood out in terms of quality of play, with his slices and drops. The 21-year-old Ramkumar started slowly but fired a few 200-kilometre per hour serves as the match progressed. He had seven aces and nine doublefaults, but converted six of 11 breakpoints to sail through.

Leander Paes and Rohan Bopanna will aim to seal the tie on Saturday, and take India once again to the World Group play-off.

Results

India leads Korea 2-0 (Ramkumar Ramanathan bt Seong-Chan Hong 6-3, 2-6, 6-3, 6-5 (retired); Saketh Myneni bt Yong-Kyu Lim 6-1, 3-6, 6-4, 3-6, 5-2 (retired).