Doubles loss decided the tie: Davis Cup captain Amritraj

New Delhi, Sep 20 (IANS) Dejected after conceding their Davis Cup World Group Play-off tie to the Czech Republic, India’s non-playing captain Anand Amritraj said on Sunday that losing the doubles rubber had dealt a major blow to the hosts’ chances.

The Czech Republic clinched the tie 3-1 on Sunday after Jiri Vesely defeated local lad Yuki Bhambri 6-3, 7-5, 6-2 in almost two hours at the RK Khanna Stadium here.

Somdev Devvarman had stunned World No.40 Jiri Vesely 7-6, 6-4, 6-3 in the second singles on Friday to level the tie at 1-1 and give the hosts a glimmer of hope after Yuki Bhambri had gone down to Lukas Rosol in straight sets.

But the Indian combination of veteran Leander Paes and Rohan Bopanna went down 5-7, 2-6, 2-6 in the doubles rubber on Saturday to give the Czechs a 2-1 lead in the tie.

That left Yuki and Somdev a mountain to climb in Sunday’s reverse singles and Amritraj admitted that Saturday’s loss virtually extinguished India’s chances.

“We had lost the tie yesterday. If we had managed to win the doubles, there would have been less pressure on Yuki and Somdev today. We had expected Somdev to keep Rosol out there in the heat for 3-4 hours and if the guy could still beat him then we would have lost 3-2. But yesterday was the day that decided the tie. I am disappointed with how things went,” Amritraj said after the match.

“We had a better chance on Saturday, but when we lost the doubles rubber it puts a lot of pressure on the boys today. I am disappointed with the result as we lost very close matches here,” he added.

With the top seeded Czechs starting the tie as overwhelming favourites, Amritraj admitted that the Indians had banked on the sizzling Delhi heat to tire out their opponents.

“Our plan was to keep Jiri out there for at least two hours. I had told Yuki to make him work for every point, besides going for his own shots. I told him to try to prolong his stay in the court for as long as possible,” the 63-year-old said.

“I think if Yuki had managed to take the match to the fourth and fifth sets, things would have got really tough for them. But Jiri played really well today,” he added.

“I think Jiri came out more mentally prepared knowing how the heat was going to be. Still, by the end of the second set, I felt he was fading. But somehow today Jiri played like a top-50 player.”

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