India No. 1 Prajnesh Gunneswaran once again failed to impress in the singles as Andreas Seppi won the first reverse singles 6-1, 6-4 to help Italy take an unassailable 3-1 lead in the Davis Cup qualifier tie at the South Club grass courts in Kolkata. With this win, the Italians have made it to the 18-team finals to be held in Madrid later this year.
This, after Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan rallied from one set down to beat Italians Matteo Berrettini and Simone Bolelli in the doubles rubber and haul their team back into contention.
After losing the first set 4-6, the hosts came back strongly to win the next two 6-3, 6-4 in a match that lasted one hour and 43 minutes.
The Indians looked the better team for most part of the opening set but the break in the ninth game on Bopanna's serve proved to be detrimental. Berrettini comfortably held his serve to clinch the opening set 6-4 for his team.
Much like the opening set, the first three games of the second set went with serve. Then, a powerful volley from Sharan made it 2-1 in India's favour.
In the next game, Sharan played a peach of a drop shot to earn India their first breakpoint and Bolelli's return found the net in the next point and India had the break. Sharan continued to impress as he staged a love-hold the following game to take India to a 4-1 lead.
The set went with serve for the next two games and then at 5-2, the Indians served to win what would be their first set of the tie. Sharan's serve was under threat but the Indians managed to save three break points and bagged the second set. The Indians found a sense of confidence thanks to an early break and they also managed to save a total of four break points.
The third set saw ther Italians race to a 3-1 lead and it looked all but over for the hosts in the tie. India broke serve in the fifth game and then the set went with serves till the ninth game. With the score at 4-4, the Indians found a way to break Bolelli's serve. At 5-4, it was Rohan's chance to finish the match.
And what an enthralling tenth game it turned out to be! Bopanna's serves gave India a 30-0 lead but a double fault and successive errors saw Italy claim a break point. But an exquisite ace followed by two fine serves saw the Indian duo clinch the win.