Davis Cup: Paes-Bhupathi keep India’s hopes alive (Lead)September 20th, 2008 - 10:54 pm ICT by IANS
Bucharest (Romania), Sep 20 (IANS) India kept their hopes in the Davis Cup World Group play-off against Romania alive as Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi won the doubles in straight sets over Adrian Cruciat and Horia Tecau here Saturday.The ‘Indian Express’ gelled well to beat the Romanians 6-4, 7-6(0), 6-4 after two and a half hours at the Bucuresti Stadium. The win extended Paes-Bhupathi’s winning streak to 21 in the Davis Cup, but they achieved it after squandering five match points.
It was a typical doubles encounter with a lot of thrills and spills.
Both pairs had their opportunities to seize the initiative, but it was the Indians who knew exactly when to move into the top gear. They could have made it a lot more comfortable for themselves if only they had not wasted a number of break points. Likewise, the Romanians, too, could have pressed home the advantage a couple of times.
The match turned decisively in India’s favour in the second set tie-break where the Indians gave their best performance to outclass the Romanians 7-0.
At critical junctures, Paes and Bhupathi showed their vast experience to finish big points, particularly attacking the second serve of their opponents or setting up easy kills on their own serve.
The Indian pair though got off to a slow start and were the first to be broken when Bhupathi dropped his serve in the fifth game. But the Indians broke back immediately.
The Indians had an easy hold in the ninth game and gained a set point in the 10th when a topspin lob by Paes from the baseline landed out of Romanians’ reach. A whipping backhand return from Bhupathi then gave the Indians a set lead.
In the second set, Cruciat-Tecau once again snatched an early lead by breaking Leander’s serve in the very first game after Indians saved four break points.
It was not before the sixth game that Paes-Bhupathi broke back to draw parity. Indians could have wrapped the second set in the 10th game after they enforced deuce. But a stubborn resistance took the match to tie-break where a flawless display by the Indians tilted the momentum in their favour.
The decider saw the Indians take the reins and broke Cruciat in the fifth game for a 3-2 lead. Few slips by the Indians saw the Romanians save two match points in the ninth game and as many as four in the 10th before converting the sixth one to give India their first win in the play-off.
The win nothwithstanding, the road ahead for India is still tough as they have to win both their reverse singles Sunday to beat Romania and make a place in the World Group - first time since 1998.