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Davis Cup: India down Japan 3-0

Last updated on: April 12, 2008 18:08 IST

Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi took India to the World Group play-offs as they won the doubles encounter against Japan and clinch the Asia Oceania round II tie 3-0 in New Delhi on Saturday.

India's top singles players Rohan Bopanna and Prakash Amritraj had come through tough five-setters on Friday.

Paes-Bhupathi, playing together for the first time since winning the gold medal at the 2006 Asian Games, survived an early challenge from Japan's Takao Suzuki and Satoshi Iwabuchi to prevail 7-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 and seal the tie on the second day itself.

"It was a routine win for us," said Paes after the match. "Honestly, I expected better fight from the Japanese players. Being 0-2 down I though they be fiery and come out and serve better.

"There was a little bit of drama in the second set when I wasn't finding my range but it was pretty smooth after that. We didn't miss a whole lot and I think that's the key to winning doubles matches."

Captain Paes had said on Friday that the ace doubles duo should be able to build on the tremendous effort of Bopanna, Amritraj on the first day but added that India could not afford to be complacent.

Paes-Bhupathi, who couldn't break through the Japanese defence in the first set, got a wake-up call after some sloppy serving in the middle of the second set saw them lose it 3-6.

But the experienced combo came up with some intelligent and aggressive tennis that had seen them rise to No.1 in the rankings. The team broke Iwabuchi's serve once each in the third and fourth set to carry India through.

The team looked in a spot of bother when they were down 15-40 on Bhupathi's serve in the seventh game of the third set. Suzuki let go a first serve, which he thought was long, to give India the little opening to come back into the game and the set.

"That point was very important," said Suzuki. "I thought the ball was long and stopped my return motion. But the umpire said it was in; these things happen in the game, it's not the umpire's fault. That did change things for us a little bit."

Suzuki, Japan's most experienced Davis Cup player also said that the doubles team would have come in with a different mind-set if they hadn't come in with a 0-2 deficit.

"Playing 1-1, and 0-2 are completely different things," the 31-year-old added.

Japan's non-playing captain Eiji Takeuchi said that his team not being able to take the chances was the crucial difference over the two days.

India, who haven't featured in the World Group since 1998, last played in the World Group play-offs in 2005, when they went down 1-3 to Sweden in a rain-affected tie.



Deepti Patwardhan in New Delhi