Leander Paes becomes most successful doubles player in Davis Cup; India beat China
Leander Paes became the most successful player in the history of Davis Cup as he combined with Rohan Bopanna to not only grab a record 43rd win but also bring India back in tie against China here today.
Forced to play together by AITA, 44-year-old Paes and Bopanna downed a fighting Chinese pair of Mo Xin Gong and Ze Zhang 5-7 7-6(5) 7-6(3) in the do-or-die doubles rubber of the Asia/Oceania Group I tie.
India, who were trailing 0-2 in the tie after Ramkumar Ramanathan and Sumit Nagal suffered surprise tame defeats on Friday, needed a win in the doubles to stay alive in the tie.
Ramanathan, then, came back strongly to beat Di Wu 7-6(4), 6-3. The win levelled the tie 2-2 after which captain Mahesh Bhupathi fielded left-handed Prajnesh Gunneswaran instead of Sumit Nagal in the tie-deciding fifth rubber against the Chinese teen sensation Yibing Wu.
Gunneswaran did not disappoint as he delivered a 6-4, 6-2 win to seal the tie for India in dramatic fashion.
Paes, India’s Davis Cup hero for years, was tied on 42 wins with Italian great Nicola Pietrangeli for long but finally surpassed him, albeit, in a foreign land.
Paes had made his Davis Cup debut in 1990 along side Zeeshan Ali, who is now coach of the side, and grew into a legend in company of Mahesh Bhupathi, who is now the captain of the side.
Paes and Bhupathi, who together ruled the ATP circuit in late 90s with their incredibly successful partnership, weaved the longest unbeaten winning streak of 24 matches.