We belong in World Group: Paes, Bhupathi

Regrouping and recovering splendidly after losing both the singles Friday, India won the next three ties - the doubles Saturday and the two reverse singles Sunday - to author a fairytale triumph rivaling the emotional 3-2 win against France at Frejus in the 1993 quarterfinals and the stirring 3-2 triumph over Brazil in the 1966 inter-zonal final at Kolkata.

"We deserve to be where we are," declared Leander Paes who marked his 21st season in the Davis Cup by partnering Mahesh Bhupathi to clinch the crucial doubles tie and keep Indian hopes alive.

"We are back to where we belong," said Bhupathi, who also saluted the two singles players, Somdev Devvarman and Rohan Bopanna, for defeating higher-ranked Brazilians.
Somdev, ranked 113, won against No.27 Thomaz Bellucci, who defaulted the match with the Indian leading 7-6(3), 4-0 due to illness, while Bopanna, at 479, belied the rankings by handing out a 6-3, 7-6(3), 6-3, defeat to Ricardo Mello who is 75th on the ATP tour.
"Like I said earlier, rankings go out of the window in Davis Cup. I tip my hats to these guys. I know how hard they worked and it is a privilege to be part of this team," said Paes whose enthusiasm, passion and commitment to the Davis Cup remain unmatched.

On his part, Bopanna made a tongue-in-cheek rebuttal to the belief that he had "demons in his mind" following the loss to Bellucci Friday after leading 5-2 in the fifth set.
"Let me tell you, there are no demons in my mind. The only demon on the court today was what Mello saw," said the 30-year old Bangalorean.

He pointed out that the doubles victory set up India’s eventual success and although his team fell 0-2 in arrears on the first day, he was still confident of pulling it off.

"I went back (on Friday) to get treated and recover. I knew that we will be alive on Sunday as I was confident that Lee (Leander) and Hesh (Mahesh Bhupathi) would win the doubles. So, I came out today and played freely,” said Bopanna, who defied the odds to win the deciding rubber.

Paes, referring to Somdev’s victory, said: "You may say he won by default, but I know how hard he has been working on his game. He won today without losing his serve. In fact, Bellucci broke mentally."

Paes also paid rich tributes to the Brazilian team for having agreed to play the tie in India unlike Australia, who last year pulled out citing security concerns.

"I have been to Brazil a number of times and played a bunch of tournaments there. Brazilians are beautiful people. It (Brazil agreeing to play in India) goes to show their passion for sports. We have to give them a lot of respect for having come to Chennai to play the tie. They received 24/7 security that they wanted," he said.

Indian team captain Shiv Prakash Misra heaped praise on the players, saying their performance exceeded all expectations.

"I thought they all played extremely well and I am proud to be associated with them," he said.

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