Veteran Leander Paes and debutant Purav Raja kept alive India’s hopes in the Davis Cup with a stunning win in the doubles but the hosts still trail South Korea 1-2 after the second day of the Group I Asia/Oceania first round tie at the R.K. Khanna Tennis Stadium on Saturday.
Cheered by a huge crowd, Paes and Raja beat Lim Yong-Kyu and Nam Ji Sung 6-4, 7-6 (7-5), 6-2 in an engrossing encounter that lasted nearly two and a half hours.
Stunned by defeats in the singles on the first day, the Indian pair, who were playing together for the first time, were determined to pull back things. Their win raised hopes of a great comeback in the two reverse singles slated for today.
Paes and Raja came out firing all cylinders right from the first game and never allowed the Koreans to dominate. The Indians gelled well and Raja impressed with his serve and volley.
In fact, the first game set the tone of the match. The Koreans were soon up 40-15. But Paes and Raja were in no mood to give up. What followed was an exciting see-saw battle and in the end the Indians saved three game points to take a 1-0 lead in the first set.
What turned the tide in India’s favour was the way they made a comeback in the thrilling second set. Though the Koreans were blanked out in the first game they showed great spirit in levelling the set at 2-2 and then nosed ahead to make it 4-2.
Two breaks down, Paes and Raja combined well to hit some excellent shots to take a 5-4 lead. But the Koreans refused to give in and momentary lapse in form for the Indians helped the Koreans win the next two games and make it 6-5. But Paes showed his class and hit some fine winners to stretch the set into tie-breakers where some more nerve-wracking twists later, the Indians went two sets up.
Paes admitted that the second set that was the turning point of the match. “I think the tie-breaker was the turning point. We were trailing 0-3 and the way we made a comeback is a reflection of how motivated we are,” said Paes.
In the third, Paes and Raja showed their true class as Lim and Nam were thrashed badly. Paes celebrated with his customary chest-bump with Raja. — IANS