CHENNAI, Sept 18 (IANS) - Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi rediscovered their magic of old to win the crucial doubles tie as India stayed afloat in their Davis Cup World Group playoff tie against Brazil here Saturday.
Paes and Bhupathi, multiple Grand Slam winners in the men's doubles, handed out a crushing 6-4, 7-6(5), 6-1 defeat to Brazilians Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares in two hours and 19 minutes as India, who had lost both the opening singles Friday, reduced the leeway to 1-2 going into Sunday's reverse singles.
It was certainly a wonderful exhibition of doubles play by the top ranked Indian duo who come together only during representative tournaments like the Davis Cup after their acrimonious split a few years ago.
Incidentally, it was at the SDAT Stadium that their golden run had begun in 1999 when Paes and Bhupathi won the doubles title in the ATP tournament and went on to win several Slams to be ranked No.1 pair in the World.
The only time the Indian pair looked to be in a spot was late in the second set when the Brazilians were on breakpoints in the 10th and 12th games, but could not convert them.
On both occasions, the Indians fell back on their vast individual and collective experience to pull themselves out of the hole with some remarkable shot making that left the Brazilians, basically a scratch combination, gasping.
In the tie-breaker, the Brazilian pair was up 4-1, but the Indian combination fought back to effectively seal the match.
In the third set, the visitors had nothing left in them as Paes and Bhupathi, playing some sublime tennis, won in a canter.
The Indian tandem enacted some of their old on-court celebrations of chest thumping to evoke memories of their salad days that unfortunately ended rather controversially.
Earlier, in the opening set, Paes and Bhupathi stamped their authority by jumping to a 4-0 lead on two service breaks before the Brazilians calmed their nerves to fight back to 5-4. However, their recovery ended in the 10th when Bhupathi held serve to clinch the set with a searing ace.
Overall, the Brazilians appeared out of depth against the Indian veterans who had far too much class and experience and came away deserving winners.