Davis Cup: Bopanna, Balaji seal tie with doubles win

Indo Asian News Service

Bengaluru, April 8 (IANS) Rohan Bopanna and Sriram Balaji defeated Farrukh Dustov and Sanjar Fayziev in straight sets in the doubles match to hand India an unassailable 3-0 lead in their Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Group I tie against Uzbekistan here on Saturday.

The Indians scripted an easy 6-2, 6-4, 6-1 win in around 80 minutes.

The Indians have now advanced to the World Group Play-off stage.

Ramkumar Ramanathan and Prajnesh Gunneswaran had won their respective singles matches to hand India a 2-0 lead on the opening day of the tie on Friday.

Ramkumar had defeated Temur Ismailov 6-2, 5-7, 6-2, 7-5 in the opening match of the tie before Prajnesh enjoyed an excellent Davis Cup debut with a 7-5, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 win over Fayziev.

"Ramkumar and Prajnesh had won the singles to hand us the 2-0 lead. That took a lot of the pressure away from us. We now have to maintain our form and enter the World Group," Balaji said after Saturday's match.

Sunday's reverse singles will have no bearing on the result of the tie.

Bopanna and Balaji produced a clinical performance in front of a sizeable crowd at the KSLTA Tennis Stadium. They overcame some decent resistance from the visitors in the first two sets. But they completely dominated the third set to seal the match and the tie in a comprehensive fashion.

The Indians relied on their powerful serves and some superb placements to trouble the Uzbeks.

For the visitors, the experienced Farrukh Dustov was in good form, but the 22-year-old Fayziev was let down a bit by his lack of experience.

The Indians put pressure on Fayziev's serve and made the youngster struggle.

The first set went with the serve till the fourth game when the Indians broke Fayziev's serve.

The Uzbeks put pressure on Balaji's serve in the next game before the hosts managed to win the game and extend their lead.

The Indians clinched another break a couple of games later before going on to take the opening set.

The hosts started the second set on a strong note, putting pressure on Dustov's serve in the second game before the experienced Uzbek managed to win the game with an excellent placement.

The visitors continued to struggle with their serve as an excellent placement at the net by Bopanna and a double fault by Fayziev almost saw them concede a break.

But the Uzbek duo rallied to take two consecutive points and clinch the game.

Both sets of players then held serve before the Indians earned four back to back points off Dustov's serve to take another service break and win the set.

Bopanna and Balaji completely dominated the third set, winning five consecutive games which included two service breaks.

After Balaji held serve in the opening game, the hosts broke Fayziev's serve in the second game. Bopanna produced an excellent placement to smash the ball between the Uzbek players to give the hosts a 30/40 lead before Fayziev fired his shot into the net to concede the game.

Bopanna then used his powerful serve to extend the hosts' lead to 3-0.

The next game was a see-saw affair before Bopanna and Balaji drew level at 40-40 and went on to earn their second break of the set.

Balaji held his serve in the next game as the hosts took a 5-0 lead in the set to virtually seal the issue.

Although Fayziev managed to hold serve in the next game, it was never going to be enough as Bopanna held his serve at love to seal victory in some style.

--IANS

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