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Bhupathi, Bopanna go down

Zwolle, Sept. 20 (Agencies): The Netherlands sealed their tie with India 3-0 to remain in the Davis Cup World Group.

Martin Verkerk and John van Lottum clinched Saturday’s doubles rubber defeating Rohan Bopanna and Mahesh Bhupathi 4-6, 7-5, 7-5, 6-4. India, who have not featured in the 16-strong World Group since 1997, thus remain in the Asia-Oceania zone.

It was an uphill task for the Indian pair — playing together for the first time — but they got off to the best possible start.

Bhupathi, world No. 8 in doubles and Bopanna, filling in for the ailing Leander Paes, took advantage as a tired-looking Verkerk struggled to get into the match. But the Dutch pair moved up a gear in the second set to take control of the match, roared on by a 5,000-strong crowd.

In both the second and third sets, the Dutch led 6-5 on Bhupathi’s serve and took big risks to make the break.

The home team again grabbed the lead in the fourth set and held on to it until they made the vital, final break at 5-4 with a Verkerk volley closing out the rubber in two hours, 37 minutes.

Woodbridge-Arthurs wins

In Melbourne, Wayne Arthurs and Todd Woodbridge squeezed out an exciting victory over Swiss pair Roger Federer and Marc Rosset to give Australia a 2-1 lead in their World Group semi-final on Saturday.

The hosts came through 4-6, 7-6, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 in a doubles encounter that lasted three hours and 17 minutes and was described by Australia’s non-playing captain John Fitzgerald as “one of the best Davis Cup matches I’ve ever seen”.

In Malaga, Argentine duo Agustin Calleri and Lucas Arnold clinched a 6-3, 1-6, 6-4, 6-2 victory over Alex Corretja and Albert Costa to cut Spain’s lead to 2-1 and keep the other semi-final alive.

It was Wimbledon champion Federer, 22, who cracked first in the fifth set when he served two double-faults before Rosset put a forehand volley into the net on break-point and Australia went ahead 4-3. Woodbridge then held serve to love for a 5-3 advantage.

A weary Rosset, who is semi-retired, netted an easy volley in the next game but managed to hold serve to force Arthurs serve out the match in the 10th game, which he did to loud celebrations on Rod Laver Arena.

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