Not unexpectedly the Indian doubles team of Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes brushed aside the fragile challenge from Bruno Soares and Marcelo Melo in two hours, 19 minutes to reduce Brazil’s lead to 2-1 after the second day’s play in the Davis Cup World Group play-off tie in Chennai.
Against the Grand Slam champions the Brazilian pair never really had a chance. An Indian win was always on the cards and the only interest was whether Paes and Bhupathi could underline their supremacy by winning in straight sets. They duly obliged to the delight of the cheering fans.
Paes takes the lead
In particular Paes was brilliant and he covered up admirably for Bhupathi who was generally off colour and had trouble in getting his first serve in. Bhupathi had his serve broken in the sixth game of the first set, while Paes never lost a service game. On the Brazilian side the tall Mello had difficulty in holding his serve and was broken three times while Soares had his serve broken once.
As he has been doing all through his two decade-long career Paes was bounding all over the court belying his 37 years. He served smoothly, his anticipation was uncanny and his volleying was superb. Bhupathi, a year younger than his partner, also had his moments but Paes was clearly the star.
Brazilians waste chances
Soares and Melo tried their best and were not without their opportunities. But these were too few for them to have any serious chance of stretching the Indian pair. Their best chance came in the second set. They had two set points on Paes’ serve in the 10th game and two more on Bhupathi’s serve in the 12th game. Again in the tiebreak they led 4-1. But each time the Indian pair warded off the crisis and once they took the second set they romped home in the third.
Once Melo had been broken in the second game of the third set the win was never in doubt and the Indians only made their task easier when breaking him again in the sixth game. Paes then served out for the match but not before a minor scare. The Brazilians had a break point but they faltered. Fittingly enough Paes provided the finishing touch with a winning high forehand volley.
“Anything is possible in Davis Cup,” said Paes, when questioned whether India could still win the tie on Sunday.