September 20, 1997
BOOKS & THINGS
Bhupati fightback gives India 3-2 win
Mahesh Bhupati staged a fairytale comeback to overwhelm Gabriel Silberstein 6-7 (4-7), 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 to give India a remarkable 3-2 win over Chile in the World Group play off tie in New Delhi, Sunday.
Earlier, Leander Paes went down to world number seven Marcelo Rios 6-7 (5-7), 6-4, 6-0, 7-6 (7-3) to make level the tie at two games all and hinge the result on the Bhupati-Silberstein show down.
Bhupati, ranked 223rd in the world, came back from being two sets down with an impeccable display of grasscort tennis to win the gruelling encounter in three hours and 17 minutes.
Firing in 23 aces, Bhupati demolished the Chilean, ranked much higher than him, with a classical serve and volley game and, egged on by a cheering home crowd that had gone totally silent after his loss in the first two sets, began hitting winners at will to take the tie.
On Saturday, meanwhile, Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi, the world number five doubles team, beat
Marcelo Rios and Nicolas Massu 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-7 (3-7), 6-3
to give India a 2-1 lead over Chile.
Amidst high drama and nerve wracking tension, the Paes-Bhupati team got over a scare from the makeshift Chilean combination and won in five sets in a tie lasting three hours and 27 minutes.
''We did not not expect such a tough resistance from the
Chileans,'' admitted Peas after the match.
He lavishly praised 17-year old Massu for playing a
tremendous game and added that "this proves that in a Davis Cup tie a
player who is under no pressure can bring out his best''.
That Paes and Bhupati were not expecting much resistance was obvious from the way they played. Rather relaxed in the first set, the two woke up only after the Chilean combination went through the set with ease. In the second and third sets, the Indian combination pulled out all the stops, and the results were obvious as they proved a class and a half above the scratch Chilean pair. Then again, over confidence appeared to get the better of them in the fourth set, with both Paes and Bhupati trying too many fancy stop volleys and dinky little drop shots and, in the process, committing seven unforced errors at crucial points to surrender the set. That proved the wakeup call, and the Indian pair tightened their game to waltz through the fifth set with relative ease.
After the two pairs exchanged leads with the Chileans winning the
first and the fourth sets and the Indians the second and third,the fifth
set was a tense affair. In the eighth game, after both pairs held
on to their service, Massu's service was returned by
Bhupathi and the linesman called it ''good'', but the Chileans hotly
disputed the call saying it was wide off the court.
However, the chair umpire, Germany's Oliver Wolef upheld the linesman's call, and then Massu smashed his next
return wide to be broken.
Rios, not trying to hide his unhappiness over the issue, told the post-match press conference, "I have been of the
view that like umpires, linesmen should also be from neutral