Leander Paes and Rohan Bopanna notched up a hard fought win in the doubles contest to keep India’s chances alive in their Davis Cup Asia/Ocenia Group I tie against China here on Saturday.
The experienced Indian combination were made to sweat by the spirited Chinese pair of Mo Xin Gong and Ze Zhang before claiming a 5-7, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (3) victory.
It was a landmark moment for the 44-year-old Paes as he notched up a record 43rd Davis Cup victory to become the most successful player in the history of the tennis competition.
Paes was tied on 42 wins with Italian great Nicola Pietrangeli for a long time, but the Kolkata born star finally surpassed him with his 43rd victory.
India now trail the hosts 1-2. Ramkumar Ramanathan and Sumit Nagal had lost their respective singles matches on Friday which handed China a 2-0 lead.
Now Ramanathan and Nagal will now have to win both the reverse singles if India is to qualify for the World Group Play-offs.
Needing a win in the doubles to keep India afloat in the tie, Paes stamped his class along with the experienced Bopanna.
In the first set, Paes’ service was broken in the 11th game after the two pairs were tied at 5-5.
The Indians got more break opportunities than the hosts but struggled to kill it off.
The Indians broke Gong in the third game for a 2-1 lead and then held on.
In the decider, Paes and Bopanna frittered away a 3-1 lead by losing three games in a row to trail 3-4.
Paes came out to serve at 5-6 and went down 0-30 but the veteran used all his experience to pull off the crucial hold to force another tie-breaker.
In the tie breaker, Paes and Bopanna used all their experience to roll over the lower-ranked Chinese and pull off the triumph.