India slumped to a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Denmark in a Davis Cup playoff tie, relegating the side to World Group 2 of the competition for the first time since the format change in 2019.
It was World No. 9 Holger Rune who proved to be the difference for the Danes. India’s bold team selection on the first day paid off, as Sumit Nagal was able to defeat August Holmgren in three sets on Friday to tie the score 1-1 after Yuki Bhambri’s 6-2, 6-2 loss to Rune.
On Saturday, with scores even and doubles veteran Rohan Bopanna, fresh off his run to the Australian Open mixed doubles final, on their side, India had the upper hand in the doubles rubber. However, just as it was against Norway in their World Group 1 tie last year, a disappointing defeat followed.
Bopanna and Bhambri partnered each other to face Rune, who was subbed in at the last minute after Nagal’s singles win, and Johannes Ingildsen. Despite being the more experienced and accomplished pairing, the duo lost in straight sets.
Rune and Ingildsen got off to a brilliant start, winning four games in a row, and did not look back for the rest of the first set. The Indian duo were broken early in the second set too, but ground out a way back into the match by breaking back immediately, only to lose serve the following game. The Danish pair served it out for a 6-2, 6-4 win from there on.
Rune led from the front once again, shrugging off the fatigue from the doubles match, to come back on court and play Nagal in what was the decisive match for Denmark. He got off to an excellent start by breaking Nagal’s serve, only to lose his own. The Indian looked in good touch, showing glimpses of the form he was in a few years ago as the last Indian singles player to be in the main draw of a Grand Slam, before injuries derailed his 2022 season.
With a firing forehand and solid attacking tactics, Nagal broke Rune’s serve in the fifth game of the first set, but fell off from there as Rune found another gear. Nagal was broken as he served for the first set, and then lost three games in a row to lose the first set.
He found a way into Rune’s serve again immediately, in the opening game of the second set, but failed to convert two break points. Rune did not look back from there, rounding out a 7-5, 6-3 win – his third of three matches in the tie – to take Denmark back into World Group 1.
India will now play the winner of the World Group 2 playoff in September.
Hoger Rune def. Yuki Bhambri 6-2, 6-2
Sumit Nagal def. August Holmgren 4-6, 6-3, 6-4
Holger Rune/ def. Rohan Bopanna/Yuki Bhambri 6-2, 6-4
Holger Rune def. Sumit Nagal 7-5, 6-4.