Mahesh, Bopanna win doubles give India 2-1 lead

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New Delhi, Feb 9 (UNI) Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna proved too lethal a combination for Denis Istomin and Farrukh Dustov as they aced out the Uzbek pair 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 in the doubles to give India a crucial 2-1 lead in the group 1 Asia/Oceania Davis Cup tournament here today.

India captain Leander Paes made a tactical move by playing Rohan Bopanna in place of Prakash Amritraj and it paid off well as Rohan proved to be a perfect foil for Mahesh for this important match.

This was the second time Mahesh and Rohan were playing together in Davis Cup doubles, having earlier played way back in 2002 against Holland.

Today, the Indians were simply overwhelming as they dominated the proceedings throughout their 129 minutes stay on the grass court.

If Rohan served brilliantly, Mahesh was the executioner at the net and they combined well firing 11 aces to demolish the Uzbek challenge. They also committed four double faults.

The Indians got the break in the very first game when they broke Istomin and then it was Istomin again who was broken for the second time in the 9th game as the hosts claimed the set 6-3 in 26 minutes.

Istomin, the higher ranked Uzbek player turned out to be the weak link and Mahesh and Rohan targeted him.

It was Istomin who was broken in the eighth game of the second set which helped India go up 2-0. The second set lasted 27 minutes.

The third set followed the same pattern but the only difference being that this time it was Dustov who was broken in the 5th game as the Indians clinched the set 6-4 and wrapped up the match.

Rohan was a revelation as he served well and then his placing from the net left the opponents bewildered and with Mahesh volleying and smashing with precision the Uzbeks were reduced to nothing.

Istomin tried hard but his service left much to be desired and Dustov was all at sea when it came to return.

The visitors' inexperience on the grass court was evident as they found themselves in helpless position while the Indians ruled the court.

Mahesh's cross court returns and Rohan's tuning volley's from net were treat to watch as Uzbeks were left bemused and stranded.

Nothing went wrong for the Indians as nothing went right for the visitors.

Of the 11 aces which Indians fired, eight came from the racquet of Rohan while Uzbeks came up with six aces-three each by both the players.

''It was a grand show, we are now in a drivers seat,'' said Paes after the match. ''Mahesh and Rohan played great tennis.

''Rohan and Mahesh performed superbly, I did not want to take chance, that is why I opted for Rohan and he came out triumphant,'' he said adding ''It was the best doubles team out there and they have put us in a commanding position.'' Mahesh was of the view that early break helped them. ''It is nice to start with an advantage. We expected to win this match, number of sets hardly matter.'' Rohan was satisfied with the way he played. ''I am ok with my game, I tried to get lot of first serves and with Mahesh at the net it helped. It was a good match. I am confident of tomorrow's tie also. It is nice to go into the third day with two wins under our belt. I hope to make it a hat trick.'' Istomin was all praise for the Indians. ''They played well,'' and admitted that he and Dustov did not click well.'' ''We have not been playing together, so we could not combine well. Also we are not used to grass,'' he said but exuded confidence of doing better tomorrow.

''If I make it 2-2 tomorrow, I think we have a good chance of winning this tie,'' he added.

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