Yuki Bhambri
Yuki Bhambri could not find his rhythm against Dusan Lajovic in their Davis Cup World Group Playoff openerReuters

Yuki Bhambri is a good huffer and puffer of a tennis match, but the only problem is he never really looks like blowing his opponent down.

There was plenty of effort from the Indian, but nowhere near enough to trouble Dusan Lajovic of Serbia in their Davis Cup World Group playoff opener as the 22-year-old caved in rather prematurely 6-3, 6-2, 7-5.

It was always going to be an uphill task for India to open this massive tie against Serbia, played at the KSLTA Stadium in Bangalore, with a win, and so it proved to be as Bhambri struggled to find anything remotely resembling the semblance of a game needed to post a win as Lajovic, without really needing to be at the peak of his powers, walked the match.

There were a moment or two here and there, but for the large part the disappointingly sparse crowd had little to cheer about in the opening rubber.

Bhambri was going to need every bit of his game to be at the top level to best his higher-ranked opponent, but unfortunately for the youngster and India, his forehand decided to take a walk to a taxi stand, hire a cab, take it to the airport and fly to Timbuktu.

With a non-existent forehand, all Lajovic - smooth as silk with his backhand and a really easy-on-the-eye player - had to do was find that half of the court, time and again, and frequently enough the audience got to watch a shanked forehand or one straight down the middle of the net.

It actually began on a rather encouraging note for Bhambri, with the right-hander breaking Lajovic's serve at 2-1 to take an early lead in the match. However, an immediate break-back from the Serbian, courtesy of four straight forehand errors from Bhambri, quelled any momentum in the blink of an eye, with that wonderful word then camping in the Serbian half for the rest of the match.

A break in the eighth game of the first set gave Lajovic his first real lead, and from there the Serbian held his nerve in a topsy-turvy ninth game - a game which saw Lajovic receive eight set points and Bhambri three break points, to win it 6-3.

The second set saw Bhambri go into the forehand shank mode yet again, forgetting what it feels to hit the ball on the middle of the racket as Lajovic cruised to the easiest of sets.

The third was much more competitive, with Bhambri - who by the end of the second set looked like he had thrown in the towel, with even captain Anand Amritraj sitting alongside him seemingly consigned to the defeat - suddenly finding some fight, which went missing in the first two sets.

The Indian broke Lajovic in the fourth game of the third set to jump into a 3-1 lead, before crucially holding his serve as he looked to pull a set back with the score at 4-2 in Bhambri's favour.

However, that inevitable break back came in the seventh game, with Lajovic yet again showing those nerves of steel to hold off a maybe-I-can-do-it-but-even-I'm-not-convinced charge from Bhambri to seal the match.

This was a rather tame start for India playing in their home ground, but, of course, their cause was not helped by the fact that the home support was, well, disappointing.

It's over to Somdev Devvarman now to pull this tie back on level terms with the 29-year-old taking on Filip Krajinovic in the evening. India will, no doubt, hope for a full house by then.

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