India hailed Somdev Devvarman as their next big tennis hope after he put the country back into the Davis Cup top tier World Group.
|Devarmann is ranked 133 in the world [GALLO/GETTY]
Devvarman came back from two sets down to beat Rik de Voest 3-6 6-7 7-6 6-2 6-4 in four hours and 38 minutes in the first reverse singles to give India a winning 3-1 lead over South Africa in the World Group play-off in Johannesburg.
Junior Australian champion Yuki Bhambri wrapped up the tie by beating Izak van der Merwe 3-6 6-3 6-4 in the final dead rubber.
India, who last played in the World Group in 1998, had advanced to the play-off after Australia forfeited their Asia-Oceania tie in Chennai, citing security concerns despite the International Tennis Federation determining the venue was safe.
'World at Som's feet' screamed the headline in the Times of India with a picture of the 24-year-old Devvarman celebrating.
'Somrise' said DNA.
World number 133 Devvarman, who made it to the second round of the US Open earlier this month, won both his singles matches to lead the team in the absence of the experienced Leander Paes, who missed the tie with injury.
"To come back from being two sets down shows that he has a lot of mental strength," multiple grand slam winner Paes told Mid Day.
"Somdev is the future of Indian tennis. Full credit to him for winning two singles matches in the five-match rubber. And that too abroad."
Devvarman, runner-up in the ATP event in his hometown tournament in Chennai in January, is seen to be leading a resurgence in Indian men's tennis that has been seeking their next singles saviour for some time.