Bucharest, Sep 20 (UNI) Playing to a plan, the experienced duo of Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi overwhelmed the Romanian duo in straight sets to keep India's hopes alive in the Davis Cup play-off here today.
The Indian Express duo outlasted Adrian Cruciat and Horia Tecau 6-4, 7-6, 6-4 in a two hour 40 minute battle to register their team's first win of the tie.
Already two down in the tie, this win has kept the tie alive and now the visitors will have to win both their reverse singles tomorrow to secure a place in the 2009 World Group.
To begin with, the Indians looked a little rusty and were broken early in the first set but the 'Indian Express' did not take much time to get into groove and broke the Romanians in just the next game to level the scores at 3-3.
The Indians exploited the Romanians' inexperience, particularly Cruciat's, to good effect.
In the 10th game, Bhupathi, sensing early that the Romanian duo was close to the net, tossed the ball just inches inside the baseline and then with brilliant backhand return he broke Cruciat to win the first set.
The Romanian duo had a perfect start to the second set and broke Bhupathi in the first game and held their serve to take a 2-0 lead.
However, the Indians did not lose time and broke Tecau in the sixth game but squandered a chance later in the set where they failed to make use of three set points off Cruciat's serve.
The Indians clearly showed their class and experience in the tie-breaker where they did not give any space to the Romanians.
Cruciat succumbed to the pressure and gave away an easy chance to the Indians to take away the second set as well.
In the tie-breaker Indians had a clean sweep as they took seven straight points to clinch the second set.
Ranked 282 in the world, Cruciat proved to be the weak link in the Romanian ranks as he faltered at crucial moments as the seasoned campaigners from India were good enought to make use of the opportunities.
The writing was there on the wall for the Romanians and the the Paes-Bhupathi duo broke Cruciat in the fifth game to take the lead in third set.
Serving to satay alive in the match, the Romanian pair saved two match points but it was delaying the inevitable as the Bhupathi held his serve to seal the third set and the match.
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