Chandigarh: After playing a stellar role in India's Davis Cup win over New Zealand in the absence of senior players, a young Vishnu Vardhan yesterday said the tie was more about "heart" and not just forehands and backhands.
After steering India to a 2-0 lead with his singles win, Vishnu defied cramps in a nerve-wrangling five-setter in the doubles rubber to seal the tie in favour of the hosts.
Vishnu teamed up with debutant Divij Sharan to script a 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-3 win over Michael Venus and Daniel King-Tuner of New Zealand.
"It's the best thing happened to me. I dedicate this win to the whole team. SP (SP Mishra) sir, Nandan (Bal) sir, Vece (Paes) sir, they have huge experience behind them. Divij was incredible today, Yuki (Bhambri) gave us the lead. It was more about heart and not just tennis," he said.
Vishnu said he was struggling to remain fit as the match progressed and credited Divij for keeping him relaxed and going.
"I was exhausted, losing legs. It was a long day, lot of emotions were there. It was a great effort by Divij. I was not injured but had stiffness towards the end of the third set or the beginning of the fourth set.
"We had figured out the strategy that I will be staying relaxed, taking a lot of fluids. I have seen Mahesh (Bhupathi) do that, Leander (Paes) do that in the Pakistan tie in Bombay. I just followed that. Result never bothered me," he said.
Divij, on his part, said he did not do anything extraordinary in the match, but praised Vishnu for his never-say-die attitude.
"Hats off to Vishnu, he played six sets today. I did not do much, I was playing fine. We came strong in the fifth set and stuck together," he said.
Asked if he was pushing himself more when Vishnu started struggling with cramps, Divij replied in the negative. "I was not trying hard. I did not have a different pattern for serves. We earmarked a spot to serve and stuck to that," he said.
The left-handed Delhiite, said he was nervous on his debut match but calmed down after spending some time in the court.
"The last two days, I was very tense. It was natural. Everyone was supportive, trying to make the atmosphere lively. But once on the court it was familiar territory. First set, I just went through it, second it was flow. I knew I had to do it and had no other option.
India's non-playing captain SP Misra said it wasn't an easy ride for his boys.
"There were hiccups today. Vishnu recovered very fast. Once he got back, I was never in doubt (about the win)," he said.
Misra also explained the dilemma behind the selection of players for the singles ties on day one.
"I had great difficulty in choosing the singles player with Yuki. Sanam had some great results. But after seeing them in practice, I did not have hesitation to put Vishnu."
"The pressure was a bit off with 2-0 lead. Had it been 1-1, it would have been very different. I am happy that I can sleep well today," he said.
New Zealand skipper Marcel Vos was obviously disappointed after seeing his boys suffer a third straight defeat, but appreciated the team's good fight in the doubles.
"Congratulations to the Indian team. They kept it together. We are disappointed at not winning a single match but we still believed we could turn it around (in the doubles). It was good doubles match, the boys did a good job but unfortunately we came up short," Vos said.