Bhupathi-Bopanna pull one back for India with doubles victory; Japan lead 2-1
Phew! India won the all-important doubles rubber and fortunately they will not go winless like the woeful Indian cricket team in England.
Rohan Bopanna (left) watches as Mahesh Bhupathi returns to
Japanese pair Tasuma Ito and Yuichi Sugita during Saturday's
Davis Cup doubles match in Tokyo. PIC/AFP
Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bhupathi stepped up to the plate to register India's first point in the Davis Cup World Group play-off tie at the Ariake Coliseum.
Their win will be the much needed oxygen for the Indians after Friday's spineless display in the singles. World No 6 Bhupathi and World No 9 Rohan Bopanna showed terrific understanding for a new team to secure a hard-fought 7-5, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(4) victory over Tatsuma Ito and Yuichi Sugita.
Will it raise visions of a fightback one witnessed against the Brazilians last year, it's highly unlikely but not impossible.
Meanwhile, Somdev is a doubtful starter for the reverse singles against Kei Nishikori. A sullen looking non-playing captain Shiv Prakash Misra said: "Somdev's shoulder is being examined by Dr Paes and though he is slated to play on Sunday a final call will be only taken later."
"If Som can notch up a victory against Nishikori, I will be pumped and ready for the deciding fifth rubber. I came to the party against Brazil in the decider in Chennai last year, didn't I?'' said Bopanna.
The Coorgi did plenty of damage with his serve. Wonder what happened to his serve against Nishikori on Friday? He was wonderful at the net too as he played volleys with a deft touch. Bhupathi returned magnificently, especially with his double handed backhands, peppering Sugita at the net.
It was an extremely close call for the Indians as they battled back from 3-5 in the fourth set to win 7-4 in the tie-break.
"Two top doubles players find a way to compliment each other. They (Ito and Sugita) played way above their level, it got dicey in the end, but we are extremely pleased that we came away with a four-set win,'' noted a
The Japanese captain Eiji Takeuchi said: "The main thing is that they have belief in themselves. I have told Kei that if he has belief in his abilities he will beat Somdev." Japan are a step away from re-entering the World Group after 26 years, while if India fails to win both matches on Sunday they will slip into zonal play after three years!