Bangalore, Sep 14 :
Playing the match of his life that his captain wanted him to, tennis star Somdev Devvarman pulled off a brilliant five-set win over higher ranked Serb Dusan Lajovic to put India level at 2-2 in the Davis Cup World Group Play-off tie here Sunday.
The 29-year-old Devvarman, ranked 144, picked himself up after a sluggish start to prevail 1-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 over No.62 Lajovic whose game and especially the serve, deserted him when he needed it most in this three hours and 40-minute epic encounter here.
The victory put India and Serbia, the 2010 champions and runners-up last year, on par at 2-2 with the outcome of the tie hinging on the second reverse singles between Yuki Bhambri and Filip Krajinojvic later.
On Saturday night, after India’s doubles win, captain Anand Amritraj had stated that Devvarman needed to play the “match of his life” to beat Lajovic and the player obliged by winning the toe-to-toe slugfest under lights and in front of a partisan full house.
The stage and occasion could not have got any bigger for Devvarman to showcase his character after being all but wiped out in the early stages of the match by the elegant Lajovic who came here on the back of a good season that had him climbing from 117 at the start of the year to 58 in July.
As well as Lajovic played initially, his penchant to go for his shots at every opportunity rather than play the percentages were to cost him the match while Devvarman, encouraged by the crowd and team-mates courtside, hung in there and eventually got his game together for a deserving victory.
The match was marred by disputed line calls, some of which left a lot to be desired and on occasions, the chair umpire even over-ruled the linesperson’s decisions.
The very first game of the match was a clear indication of the intensity of the contest as every point was hard-fought, but it was not long before Lajovic took control and broke Devvarman in the fourth and sixth to take the first set.
With Devvarman struggling with his serve, Lajovic looked good to run away with the match, but the Serb wasted far too many break points. Devvarman was down 0-40 in the first game of the second set, 30-40 in the third, 15-40 in the fifth, but managed to hold serve with Lajovic progressively going down on confidence.
The set turned on its head in the seventh game in which Devvarman held serve to love. He then broke Lajovic in the 10th for the set, after which the Serb received courtside medical attention as he seemed to cramp.
In fact, Devvarman moved from 4-4 in the second set to 3-0 in the third only to blunder as Lajovic broke him twice in the seventh and ninth games to go 2-1 in the rubber.
The fourth set swung crazily as there were five service breaks, three of these by Devvarman as Lajovic dropped serve twice to love to let the Indian back in the match which thus spilled over into fifth set after two hours and 46 minutes.
Devvarman took the initiative in the fifth set with a break of serve in the third and again the seventh to close the match in style.