The Indian doubles pairing of Leander Paes and Saketh Myneni put in an inspired performance against Rafael Nadal and Marc Lopez of Spain, but went down in four sets
in their Davis Cup World Group playoff match in Delhi on Saturday. The Spaniards won the match 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-4, 6-4 in a match that lasted over three hours and 20 minutes.
India fought hard against the Olympic doubles gold medallists, but were let down by the inexperience of Myneni, ranked 119th in the world, who committed some needless unforced errors and double faults. The vetertan Paes, on the other hand, made a mockery of his 43 years of age as he brought forward a stupendous brand of tennis and, at times, was single-handedly carrying India through the match and egging the Delhi crowd on. Unfortunately for India, Paes's energy and heroics were not enough to defeat the Olympic champions, as Spain went on to take an unassailable 3-0 lead in the playoff.
The Indian pair was broken in their second service game itself to go 1-3 down in the first set, before they fought back and broke the Spaniards to get it back to 4-3 on serve. The Indians were almost broken again immediately in their next service game, but Paes managed to save a break point to make it 4-4. India got a couple of break points of their own in the next game, off Nadal's serve. Myneni could not convert the first, but Paes's brilliant backhand volley off the second won India the point to take a 5-4 lead and serve for the set. Spain got a break point off Myneni's serve, but India managed to save it, hold on and take the set 6-4.
India grabbed an early break in the second set to put Spain firmly in the backseat. Nadal and Lopez made no more mistakes in their service games for the rest of the set, taking the score to 5-4, with Myneni serving for the set. The big-serving India then made a couple of silly unforced errors and allowed Spain back into the match, as the set went back on serve 5-5. Both teams held on as the playoff went into its first tie-breaker. Nadal and Lopez were ruthless in the tie-breaker, racing to a 5-0 lead before taking it 7-2.
Spain carried the momentum into the third set, as Paes's serve was broken to give the visitors a 3-1 lead. The set then went on serve right till the end, as Nadal served for a lead in the match with the score at 5-4. The singles world No. 5 did not err as Spain took the set 6-4 and gained a vital 2-1 lead in the match.
Paes played an outstanding return game to Nadal's serve at the start of the fourth set and gained India three break points. The pressure got to the Spaniard as he served a double fault to hand India the break. Paes carried on with his heroics as Myneni served in the next game, leaving Spain with no space to come back as India took a 3-0 lead. Spain almost broke back in Paes's service game, but the 43-year-old found another cylinder of energy to save two break points and hold on. Unfortunately for India, Myneni committed two double faults in his service game, along with some great returns from Nadal, to allow the Spaniards back into the set. In a remarkable turn of events, Paes was broken as well as Spain went on to take the set 6-4 and, thus, the match 3-1.
Source: Indian Express