MOSCOW: Seasoned pros Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi showed their class and chemistry by recording a clinical win over Igor Kunitsyn and Teimuraz Gabashvili to keep India’s chances alive in the Davis Cup World Group tie against Russia on Saturday.
The ‘Indian Express’, as they are called, literally toyed with the Russian combination in their 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 win in the doubles rubber and reduced the margin to 1-2.
India needed a win to keep themselves in the hunt but a tough day awaits them as the reverse singles will be played on Sunday.
India had conceded 2-0 lead on Friday after defeats of Somdev Devvarman and Rohan Bopanna.
It will be a herculean task for the two Indian youngsters to pull it off for India after suffering morale-hitting defeats on Friday.
Somdev will play against world number 13 Mikhail Youzhny and Bopanna will face Kunitsyn.
Paes and Bhupathi, inside top 10 of ATP ranking chart, hardly had any trouble in registering their 23rd consecutive win in the Davis Cup tournament as they were too hot to handle for the host players.
Bhupathi’s strong serve and Paes’ immaculate play at the net was a treat to watch. They got the win for the loss of just seven games and faced only one breakpoint in the whole match.
Initially the Russians strategised to attack Paes serve but the Indian combination had weapons to negate any tactics.
A volley winner each by Paes and Bhupathi handed them their first breakpoints and they did not waste any time by accepting those and shot to lead in the fourth game of the first set.
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Their was no looking back and the Indians easily pocketed the set when Gabashivili failed to return a Paes volley. Gabashvili served well and played more aggressively but could not do much against the rampaging Indian pair.
The Indians raced away to a 4-0 lead in the second set with a double break.
They were down a breakpoint in the sixth game following a few unforced errors but Paes’ captivating play at the net spoiled Russia’s chance.
The third set was no different as it too started with a break for India and Paes and Bhupathi wrapped it up in no time.