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Davis Cup: Prakash, Somdev beaten, India's World Group dreams shattered

Last updated on: September 21, 2008 20:07 IST

Victor Hanescu mercilessly crushed India's hopes to make the Davis Cup World Group as he knocked out Prakash Amritraj in the first reverse singles to give Romania an unassailable 3-1 lead in the five-match playoff tie in Bucharest on Sunday.

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The Romanian number one outplayed Prakash 6-2, 6-3, 6-1 to make the second reverse singles, to be played between Somdev Devvarman and Victor Cruvoi, inconsequential.

India had the chance to end their campaign on a better note after Prakash had lost the first match but Somdev failed to give his team that moment as nerves got the better of him when he squandered a winnable position.

Somdev also lost a chance to record his first Davis Cup win and in a dramatic turnaround Victor Crivoi won 10 games on the trot to clinch the second reverse singles 4-6, 7-5, 6-3.

Somdev was serving for the match in the 10th game in the second set but dropped his serve allowing Crivoi to make a comeback.

Earlier Hanescu, world number 67, remained undefeated in the tie as he displayed a solid all-round game and the Indian, ranked as low as 222, had no answer to his powerful game.

A berth in the World Group thus continued to remain out of India's reach and it goes back to the Asia/Oceania Group, where it will once again fight to come back to play the World Group play-offs.

India last played in World Group in 1998.

Hansecu raised the tempo gradually and raised his game to a different level as the match progressed, taking it away from the Indian game after game.

Prakash did play well in flashes but it needed immense talent apart from mental toughness and continued intensity to tame a player like Hanescu.

Early trouble welcomed Prakash as he faced breakpoint in the very first game of the match but saved it via some big serves.

Hanescu continued the way he played on the first day as he served well and used the drop shots brilliantly.

The Romanian number one had pummelled Somdev Devvarman in the singles on Friday but Prakash, India's number one, was determined to give a good fight to his formidable opponent in the must-win match for the visitors.

He sent some firing service returns and put the world number 67 under pressure when he earned a breakpoint in the fourth game through a dropped shot.

The experienced Romanian, though, not only saved that point but also went on to win five games on the trot, double breaking the Indian -- in fifth and seventh games -- to run away with the first set in just 33 minutes.

Hansecu sent good backhands down the line to put the ball in unplayable areas and Prakash was rendered helpless as he could just see the balls passing him for winners.

The second set too started on a disastrous note for the visitors as Prakash was broken in the very first game when Hansecu hit a sensational backhand volley on the Indian's forehand return.

Going 2-0 up after holding his serve, it could have been 3-0 for Romania had Hanescu not made unforced errors to squander two breakpoints in the third game.

Prakash had his chances to get revenge when he had two breakpoints in the sixth game but Hanescu came up with powerful serves on both the occasions, denying the Indian any chance to comeback.

Next two games went with serve but Prakash's three consecutive unforced errors in the ninth game wrote the set in the name of Romanian, casting a pall of gloom over the Indian camp.

Hanescu broke Prakash twice in the third set to win the rubber and keep his team in the World Group play-off.

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