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India toil for a doubles win

Injured Somdev doubtful for reverse singles, Vardhan may get a chance.

sports Updated: Sep 18, 2011 00:41 IST

After a dismal start to India's Davis Cup World Group campaign, doubles specialists Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna managed to pull one back for the visitors in Tokyo on Saturday. They fought hard to beat Tatsuma Ito and Yuichi Sugita 7-5, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4) and make the score 1-2 in the important playoff tie.

"We were expected to win the doubles rubber but it wasn't easy. The Japanese were taking chances as they had nothing to lose," said India's non-playing captain SP Misra on Saturday.

India's chances of making it to the elite group of 16 will depend on the performances of Somdev Devvarman and Bopanna in the reverse singles. On Friday, they had both lost their ties rather abysmally.

However, Devvarman's aggravated playing shoulder injury has the Indian contingent worried. It's difficult to say whether he will play against world No 55 Kei Nishikori. If the 26-year-old is not fit to play, the fourth member, Vishnu Vardhan, will take his place. It would be the 24-year-old's Davis Cup debut. "Somdev will let us know in the morning if he can play or not. If not, then I'll have to field Vardhan for the first reverse singles," said a worried Misra.

"For someone who has never played Davis Cup, playing a live rubber is tough. But, Vardhan has been practicing hard, so we'll see what happens."

The Indian team had earlier been hit when Leander Paes pulled out of the tie with a back injury.

Zimonjic-Troicki win
Belgrade:
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Nenad Zimonjic and Viktor Troicki overcame Juan Ignacio Chela and Juan Monaco 7-6 (4), 6-4, 6-2 to cut Argentina's lead to 2-1 ahead of Sunday's reverse singles.

Easy for France
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Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Michael Llodra led a rampant France past Spain to cut their semifinal deficit to 2-1.

Tsonga and Llodra made easy work of Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco to secure a 6-1, 6-2, 6-0 victory in 1 hour, 39 minutes at Cordoba's bullring.

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Lleyton Hewitt and Chris Guccione battled to a 2-6, 6-4, 6-2, 7-6 (7/5) win over Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka, Olympic champions in 2008, to give the home side a 2-1 advantage.