NUR-SULTAN — Leander Paes bettered his own Davis Cup record by winning his 44th doubles match along with debutant Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan as India took a 4-0 lead against Pakistan with victory in the third rubber in Nur-Sultan on Saturday and booked a spot in next year’s World Group Qualifiers. In the reverse singles,
Pakistani teenagers Mohammed Shoaib and Hufaiza Abdul Rehman were no match for the Indian combination, who needed just 53 minutes to win 6-1, 6-3.
Hufaiza and Shoaib began with a hold of serve in the opening game but the Indians broke them in the third game before holding their own for a 3-1 lead. Paes and Jeevan then took control with another break of serve in the fifth game. Jeevan served a double fault at 30-15 but the Pakistanis could not put pressure on their rivals as the Indians raced to a 5-1 lead. Serving to stay in the set, Shoaib was down 0-40, giving India three chances to close the opening set. Paes and Jeevan converted the second.
In the second set, Paes and Jeevan got a break in the eighth game to take a 5-3 lead, and the former then served out the match.
Last year, Paes became the most successful doubles player in Davis Cup history when he won his 43rd doubles match, surpassing Italian Nicola Pietrangeli during the tie against China.
In the reverse singles, Sumit Nagal trounced Yousaf Khalil 6-1 6-0 for his second straight win. Both the sides opted not to play the dead fifth rubber. The fourth rubber is played even if the outcome of the tie is decided after the first three matches but the rules permit teams to skip playing the fifth dead rubber.
“It was an easy win, I understand they are young players, and need experience. Today was my last match of the year and I can’t complain. It has been a fantastic year for me,” Nagal said.
Saturday’s result means India have won all the matches in a tie for the first time since February 2014 when they had blanked Chinese Taipei 5-0 in Indore.
India will now face world number two Croatia for the Qualifiers in an away tie, to be held on March 6 and 7. Twenty-four nations will go head-to-head in a bid to win one of 12 qualifying spots for the Davis Cup Finals.
The 12 losing nations will compete in World Group I ties in September 2020 while the winning nations will join the six nations who have already qualified for the Finals – the 2019 semi-finalists, Canada, Great Britain, Russia and Spain, and the 2020 wild cards, France and Serbia.