New Delhi:Rohan Bopanna and Prakash Amritraj clinched marathon five-setters to give India a formidable 2-0 lead against Japan in the Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Zone second round tie in New Delhi on Friday.
Bopanna, playing with a heavily strapped knee after recovering from a knee inflammation, showed no signs of discomfort as he beat Kei Nishikori 7-6 (2) 3-6 6-4 2-6 6-3 in a marathon opening contest which lasted close to three hours at the R K Khanna Tennis Stadium.
Amritraj then gave India a crucial 2-0 lead with a nerve-wracking 4-6 6-7 6-4 6-4 8-6 win in another marathon match against Go Soeda. After losing the first two sets, the US-based Indian was down a break in the third set before scripting a remarkable comeback.
First up today, Bopanna was clinical against Nishikori. The opening set went on serve but Bopanna showed better net approach dishing out some fine volley winners.
The 18-year-old Nishikori, struggling to cop with the rising mercury, was completely blown away in the tie-breaker which Bopanna won 7-2.
However, the momentum swung Nishikori way in the second set as the Japanese fought back with a vengeance.
Nishikori engaged Bopanna in rallies and put his double-handed backhand to deadly effect sending down some booming winners.
Bopanna's erratic serve also proved to be his bane and he double-faulted to lose his serve in the second game.
Leading 5-2, Nishikori, the first Japanese in 16 years to win an ATP title in Delray Beach tournament in Miami in February, did not face a single break point in the second set and made a resounding comeback.