Chandigarh: Country has a reason to celebrate as India reaches to the play-off section in the first round of Davis Cup/Oceania Group-I, by beating New Zealand 5-0, in a one sided match on Saturday.
Yuki Bhambri and Sanam Singh won their respective reverse singles after India had already avoided relegation into Group II on Saturday by taking an unassailable 3-0 lead.
Delhi's Bhambri, who had won the first match against Daniel King-Turner Friday, was taken the distance by World No.317 Jose Statham in the fourth match of the contest which Indian won 2-6, 7-5, 7-6(5).
Local lad Sanam Singh, who replaced Vishnu Vardhan for the final match of the tie, ousted Artem Sitak in straight sets in the final dead rubber. Sanam drubbed the Kiwi 6-4, 6-1.
Sitam, too, was a replacement for King-Turner who was supposed to play the match.
Bhambri did not start well in the morning giving away two break points to Statham in the first set. The second set was a close encounter which the Indian clinched by converting a crucial break point.
The third set was pushed into the tie-breaker. Both players held their serves but Bhambri got the mini-break when the scores were level at 5-5. He won the next point on his serve to win the set and match.
Sanam Singh, however, had an easy outing against World No.605 Sitak, winning his first Davis Cup match in two outings.
In the first set, Sanam broke to get a 3-2 lead. However, Sitak retorted by breaking back and leveling the match 3-3.
Both the players were finding it hard to hold serve as the Chandigarh lad was gifted another break of serve when Sitak made a double fault giving India a 4-3 lead.
Sanam exploited the Kiwi's backhand by hitting inward-out forehands.
India was serving to close the set in the 10th game. However, a couple of poor serves gave Sitak two break points which Sanam saved to deuce the game.
The 24-year-old Indian had to save a third break point to come back and win the set 6-4.
Sitak proved no match for his much higher ranked opponent in the second set.
The 367-ranked Indian went from strength-to-strength to break the New Zealander thrice and held all his serves to take the set and match 6-1.
Sanam's exquisite cross-court return of serves caught Sitak off-guard, helping the Indian win important points on a hot and humid day.
New Zealand now has to play Chinese Taipei in a second round play-off in October to avoid relegation to Group II.
India improved their head-to-head record against the Kiwis 4-3. This was also the first time when India registered a clean-sweep against New Zealand.