India fight back with doubles victory

Bhupathi-Bopanna duo cuts deficit against Japan

India fight back with doubles victory

Mahesh Bhupathi (foreground) volleys as partner Rohan Bopanna watches on during their doubles tie against Japan on Saturday. AP

Rattled by the opening day’s singles defeats, India went with experienced players, leaving out Vishnu Vardhan who was initially named to play the doubles along with Bhuapthi.

India are still trailing 1-2 and need to win both the reverse singles on Sunday with Somdev Devvarman clashing with Kei Nishikori and Bopanna taking on Sugita.

The Indians played well in patches, struggling for consistency. The Japanese were all fired up and gave their best. Ito, specially, served extremely well while Sugita never failed to raise his level when his team required him to do.

India nosed ahead in the opening set on Sugita’s serve when Bopanna’s forehand winner earned them a third breakpoint and Bhuapthi’s backhand winner converted it in the third game.

The Indian pair faced two breakpoints in the next game with Bhupathi serving but no damage was done. India let go the advantage of the initial break as Bhupathi was broken in the eighth game, which allowed Japan to level the score 4-4. The Indians’ then failure to convert three breakpoints put the hosts ahead 5-4.

The Indians raised their level by a few notches and claimed the third set by breaking Sugita twice even as Bhupathi surrendered his serve in between. The more the Indians put the Japanese under pressure, the better the hosts played, opening up a 4-1 lead in the fourth set by yet again breaking Bhupathi early.

Eventually, the set was decided through the tie-breaker, in which the Indians prevailed using all their experience.

Somdev doubtful
Top singles player Devvarman is a doubtful starter for Sunday’s reverse singles due to a shoulder injury. Devvarman is scheduled to play the first reverse singles against Nishikori and if he misses the tie, Vishnu Vardhan will have to play the must-win tie.

Somdev, whose injury flared up during Friday’s singles match, underwent an MRI scan and the extent of the injury is still unknown.

“We are still waiting and I will be able to decide only after seeing the reports. He had inflammation and pain which affected his performance against Sugita. He could not play aggressively,” India’s non-playing captain SP Misra said. “An unfit Somdev against a player with the ability of Nishikori makes it tough for India.”

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