Kolkata, February 1: India trailed Italy 0-2 on the first day of their Davis Cup Qualifier as Ramkumar Ramanathan and Prajnesh Gunneswaran went down without a whimper in their respective singles matches here on Friday (February 1).
Andreas Seppi braved early jitters to beat Ramkumar Ramanathan while youngster Matteo Berrettini utterly dominated India's No 1 tennis player Prajnesh Gunneswaran on the grass court of the Calcutta South Club.
The world No 37 Seppi started slow but hit overdrive in the second set to complete a 6-4, 6-2 win in one hour and 11 minutes. The 22-year-old Berrettini needed just 58 minutes to dispose Gunneswaran 6-4, 6-3.
The big-serving Ramkumar fired eight aces but his weak returns spoiled all the two chances he got to break in the first set. Seppi on the other hand maintained the pressure on Ramkumar and won five points in a row to wrap the opening set in 41 minutes. Ramkumar, who is ranked 133, failed to convert two break points in the second and eighth game. The second set turned out to be a formality for the Italian as he shifted gears to give Italy a 1-0 lead in the tie.
Gunneswaran too offered fight intermittently, but could not match his Italian opponent's power and presence of mind on big points, going down while conceding a break in each sets.
Italy had taken a gamble by leaving out their top-ranked player world number 19 Marco Cecchinato, who had ousted world number one Novak Djokovic from the French Open last year. But against India, who have never been ranked inside the top 100, it was enough to be unbeaten on the first day.
India and Italy will play the crucial doubles on Saturday (February 2) followed by reverse singles. The hosts will require a big turnaround to win the tie.