The scratch combination of Leander Paes and Vishnu Vardhan lost to Artem Sitak and Michael Venus as New Zealand fought to win the doubles match to pull back a point in their Davis Cup tie on Saturday. Sitak and Venus won 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(6), 6-3 in a match that lasted over two-and-a-half hours.
This was a disappointing outing for Paes as he was hoping to win the match for his 43rd doubles win in Davis Cup and become the most successful doubles player in the tournament’s history. He will now have to wait for the next tie to achieve his record.
The New Zealand combination --- with both Venus and Sitak ranked higher than their Indian counterparts --- took time to settle down but once they did that, the Kiwis showed good skills to overcome the Indians in front of a capacity holiday crowd at the Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex here.
The Indians won the first set after getting an early break, putting pressure on Michael Venus. Both Vishnu and Leander showed good touch, served well and were sharp at the net. But the Kiwis fought back strongly and broke Leander’s serve to win the second set.
The Indians lost a close third set in the tie-breaker with errors creeping into their game and the lack of practicing together apparent. The New Zealand players played within themselves to slowly take control of the match.
Vardhan was broken early in the fourth set and that sealed the issue in favour of the Kiwis as they went on to win the match and keep their hopes alive in the tie.
Having won the first two singles on the opening day to hold the lead at 2-1, India would look to Ramkumar Ramanathan to win the tie by beating Finn Tearney in the first reverse singles Sunday afternoon.