Feliciano Lopez and David Ferrer won their respective singles matches on the opening day of their Davis Cup World Group Play-off against India at the R.K. Khanna Tennis Stadium on Friday, taking Spain to a comfortable 2-0 lead.
Feliciano defeated Ramkumar Ramanathan 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 in the first match of the day in two hours and 15 minutes.
Later, Ferrer outclassed Saketh Myneni 6-1, 6-2, 6-1 in an hour and 25 minutes in a rather lopsided encounter to hand the visitors a comfortable lead.
The day had started in disappointing fashion for the packed stadium as Spain’s star player Rafael Nadal pulled out of his singles rubber against Ramanathan due to a wrist injury.
The 14-time Grand Slam winner will however, take part in the doubles rubber on Saturday alongside Marc Lopez. They will face an Indian combination comprising of the veteran Leander Paes and Myneni.
Although it was a largely disappointing day for India, Ramanathan was the saving grace as he showcased some superb fighting spirit.
Virtually written off even before the start, the 21-year-old from Chennai punched above his weight, putting up a brave fight before going down to Feliciano in four bitterly-fought sets.
“I was made to fight for every point. I gave my best but unfortunately I could not win. Crowd was cheering me on and I really thankful to them,” Ramanathan said after the match.
Playing in his second Davis Cup tie, Ramanathan, who had made his debut for India earlier this year, faced a stiff task against Feliciano, who is placed 26th in the world rankings.
The 203rd ranked Indian started on a positive note, holding his serve before putting pressure on his opponent’s serve in the second game.
The first set witnessed a lot of long rallies as both players fought fiercely for each point. Although Feliciano was clearly the better player, Ramanathan tested him on several occasions with his excellent placements.
The Spaniard however, claimed the advantage when he broke Ramanathan’s serve in the fifth game. He almost clinched a second break of serve in the seventh game as well before the Indian fought back to hold serve.
The proceedings thereafter went with the serve as Feliciano took the first set to go into the lead.
Feliciano started the second set on a superb note, breaking Ramanathan’s serve in the very first game. He put pressure on his opponent’s serve in the seventh game as well, but the Indian saved a break point before holding serve with a powerful ace.
Despite losing the second set as well, Ramanathan was in no mood to give up.
The third set went with the serve before Ramanathan, who was struggling in the hot and humid conditions, required a medical time out after the fifth game.
But the 21-year-old from Chennai shrugged it off and took the lead by earning a break in the eighth game.
He then held his serve in the subsequent games to take the set.
If that gave rise to hopes of an upset win for Ramanathan among the sizeable home crowd, they were dashed with Feliciano outplaying the local lad in the fourth set to seal the issue.
In the second rubber, Myneni was no match for Ferrer, going down in an hour and 25 minutes.
Ferrer broke Myneni’s serve in the fourth game of the opening set to take a 3-1 lead. He earned another break off the next serve and held on to the advantage to pocket the set.
The next two sets followed a similar script as the Spaniard scripted a comfortable win.