Novi Sad (Serbia), March 4 (IANS) India’s Rohan Bopanna gave a fright to Serb Viktor Troicki by stretching the opening singles to the deciding fifth set but faltered as the defending champions took a 1-0 lead in the Davis Cup World Group first round here Friday.
Bopanna, who turned 31 Friday, was down two sets but in a dramatic turn of events, fought back to make it a set all, putting Troicki under a lot of pressure. The Indian, however, fizzled out in the decider to go down 3-6, 3-6, 7-5, 6-3, 3-6 to World No.18 Troicki, who in absence of Serbia’s top player, World No. 3 Novak Djokovic, is leading the challenge as the No.1 player.
India’s No. 1 Somdev Devvarman will play Janko Tipsarevic in the second singles.
Troicki, who was the hero of Serbia’s maiden win last year, was cruising to a straight set victory when Bopanna, playing some some sensational tennis, broke in the 12th game of the third set to keep himself afloat in the tie, silencing the vociferous crowd.
In the fourth-set a confident Bopanna, ranked a lowly 629th, then raised his game several notches in the fourth set and wriggled out a break in the eighth game to go 5-3 up. A netted forehand by Troicki in the next game made it a set all.
The Indian failed to maintain the tempo in the decider allowing Troicki to come back. The Serb grabbed the opportunity and wasted no time in closing out the set and the match after a marathon three-hour-18 minute battle.
The Indian was brilliant in parts and his stinging groundstrokes on both sides of the flank troubled the Serb. He, however, lacked the consistency to press the issue. Bopanna served big, slamming 15 aces, but it also came with 17 double faults that undid his good work.
Playing in front of a home crowd, Troicki looked restrained and his mounting errors helped Bopanna, who frequently employed the chip and charge tactic to eke out erorrs from his opponent. The Indian won 74 percent of points in the net against Troicki’s 67 percent but committed 109 unforced errors while the Serb had 74.
Troicki’s serve however was his strength, popping 21 aces that bailed him out of tight spots.