Indian captain Mahesh Bhupathi on Friday rued that his men failed to seize the opportunities against a much higher-ranked Italy, which raced to a 2-0 lead on the opening day of the Davis Cup Qualifier. The big-serving Ramkumar Ramanathan got a break point in his very second game after he was leading 1-0 but the world number 37 Andreas Seppi used all his experience to hold his serve.
Then again in the eighth game with Ramkumar leading 4-3, Seppi fended off another break before switching gears to wrap the set 6-4 and the second set turned out to be a formality with the Indian proving no match.
“When you are playing players, who have so much experience and are used to playing at a level, you have to take your chances,” he said of Ramkumar, who went on the defensive despite being in an advantageous position.
“I am a firm believer that if you take your chances, you will get rewarded. That’s where the momentum swung.”
Bhupathi admitted that his players were under pressure, something that top singles player Prajnesh Gunneswaran also echoed.
“We understand the pressure that comes with playing for the country. The job of everybody in the team is to keep all of us relaxed while at the same time we want to win.”
Prajnesh on his part said: “Nerves and tension got to me. It’s a learning experience for me. I gave my best, Seppi was better today. He deserved to win.”
Prajnesh, who is enjoying a career-high singles ranking of 102, said he became jittery when he failed to break after being 4-3 up.
“That (failing to break) put a lot of pressure on me because he is a good frontrunner and has a very good serve. He used that to his advantage. I think he played more aggressive than I did and that worked well for him,” he said after losing to Berrettini for the second time since Chengdu ATP last year.
Last year, India bounced back to defeat China 3-2 from a similar situation and Bhupathi is expecting a repeat show from his men starting with doubles pair of Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan.
“There is no doubt that we are disappointed but tomorrow is a light day and stranger things have happened. We are not going to rule ourselves out. We will try and win the doubles, we will try and chip away one by one and see what happens,” Bhupathi tried to put up a brave front knowing fully well that encore is next to impossible.