The Indian Davis Cup team was on Saturday relegated to the World Group II for the first time since the new format was launched in 2019 after losing the play-off tie 2-3 to Denmark, who were single-handedly carried by Holger Rune as the world number nine won three matches for the hosts. The tie levelled at 1-1, India needed to win the doubles but the pair of Yuki Bhambri and Rohan Bopanna lost 2-6 4-6 in just 65 minutes to the home team combo of Rune and Johannes Inglidsen.
India lose must-win matches
The equation requiring India to win both the reverse singles to stay in World Group I, Nagal put a brave fight but lost 5-7 3-6 in one hour and 37 minutes in the first reverse singles. That defeat gave Denmark an unassailable 1-3 lead and pushed India to World Group II. Prajnesh Gunneswaran then took court in the dead rubber against Elmer Moeller and won 6-4 7-6(1) in one hour and 39 minutes.
Yuki went down in first match
Up against a formidable rival, Yuki needed a special effort but he went down in mere 58 minutes. Nagal, India’s number one player, though erased a one-set deficit to pip August Holmgren 4-6 6-4 6-4 in two hours and 27 minutes to make it 1-1 at the end of day one. The 25-year-old Nagal, ranked 506, dropped serve in the very first game of the match but once he got hold of his nerves, he was his usual fighting self.
Nagal could not repeat Friday’s performance
He got the break back but squandered the chances when Holmgren offered them. The Danish player, ranked 484, eventually sealed the set. In the second set, it was Nagal who drew the first blood and went up 5-2. He served out the set in the ninth game to force a decider. Nagal had a chance to get the first break when he made a deep return and Holmgren’s forehand return sailed over the baseline at 30-all but the home player served well to save the chance.
Nagal got another chance when Holmgren netted a forehand at deuce point in the third game but he himself made a forehand error on the breakpoint. While Nagal preferred to hit from the baseline, Holmgren often charged the net often to create chances for volley winners.