Somdev Devvarman recorded his first Davis Cup win to keep India afloat in the second round tie against Chinese Taipei as both the teams were locked 1-1 on the opening day of the Asia/Oceania Zone Group I tie in Kaohsiung (Chinese Taipei) on Friday.
Somdev overcame a fighting but erratic Ti Chen in the first singles 7-5, 6-4, 6-4 to put India ahead but Yen-Hsun Lu brought the hosts back into the tie after defeating Rohan Bopanna 7-6 (2), 6-2, 6-2 in the second singles.
Somdev, ranked 150, had to dig deep to defeat world number 356 Chen in the first singles as the two countries crossed swords for the first time in the Davis Cup.
Bopanna then failed to carry forward the momentum against the world number 59 Yen-Hsun Lu in the reverse singles at Yang Ming tennis centre here.
Somdev, India's numero uno player, was nowhere near to the level of game he displayed at the Chennai Open in the begining of the season, but managed to pull it off somehow.
An erratic Chen, who seemed to have possessed the game and tactics to tame Somdev, helped the cause of the Indian.
Chen lost the first set despite dominating the most part of it as he let himself down with a series of unforced errors.
Somdev looked a lot better in the second set as he grew in confidence and from there on controlled the proceedings.
After the first two games of the opening set went with serves, Somdev broke Chen in the third to go up by converting the second breakpoint. The first breakpoint came India's way following a long rally but Somdev could not cash in on as Chen served well to save it.
Somdev got another breakpoint when Chen made a forehand error and then converted it when the Chinese Taipei lad made a volley error.
However, Somdev could not build on the advantge and dropped his serve in the next to make it 2-2.
The games from five to eight went with serves comfortably but the ninth game saw a curious fight between the two players.
After playing five deuces, and saving many a breakpoints, Chen eventually held the serve. Somdev then saved a set point in the next, went on to break Chen in the 11th game and served out the set in the 12th game to go one set up.
In the second set, Somdev played much better, and continuously attacked the weak backhand of Chen.
It was the Indian who shot into lead when Somdev converted second of the three breakpoints in the fifth game, yet again thanks to an unforced error from his opponent.
A beautiful passing shot, down the line earned Somdev another breakpoint in the seventh game and he converted it with a brilliant winner, taking a comfortable 5-2 lead after winning four games on the trot.
Chen, however, broke back in the next game and held his serve in the ninth, raising hopes of his side but to no avail.
Somdev saved a breakpoint while serving for the match and broke Chen twice -- third and seventh -- in the final set to earn his maiden victory in the team tournament.
The first set turned out to be an intense one between the two players, who had come into the tie with some good results in the current season.
Lu has beaten the likes former number one Lleyton Hewitt and David Nalbandian and Bopanna had, along with Jarrko Niemenin, just beaten the world number one pair of Bob and Mike Bryan.
Both the players relied on their strong serve, forcing the first set into a tie breaker after it went with serve till the 12th game. Bopanna had four breakpoints in the seventh game but Lu saved all of them brilliantly.
Lu then took control of the proceedings and outplayed the Indian in the tie-breaker.
Bopanna never recovered from the first set debacle and struggled to hold serve. Lu broke the Indian twice each in the second and third sets to draw level for the hosts.