Leander Paes Martina Hingis US Open 2015
Leander Paes could not carry his US Open momentum into the Davis Cup doubles match against the Czech RepublicReuters

Almost exactly a year ago, Leander Paes and Rohan Bopanna pulled a few rabbits out of the hat, somehow coming back from two sets and a break down to give India their first point of that particular Davis Cup World Group playoff against Serbia.

A year on, in a similar position, those rabbits decided to stay in the hat and easy as pie the Czech Republic took a 2-1 lead over India heading into the final day of this Davis Cup World Group playoff tie in New Delhi.

Paes and Bopanna were just not in tune in this match, and that allowed Radek Stepanek and Adam Pavlasek, playing only the second Davis Cup match of his fledgling career, to pick up a comfortable 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 victory in two hours and nine minutes.

There is something about this Paes-Bopanna pairing that doesn't quite work, even though on paper, it should. One has a big serve and hits decent groundstokes, the other is a wizard at the net, but when it comes to playing together, that cohesion just doesn't come to the fore. Maybe it is the intangibles that is causing it, but nevertheless, if Paes and Bopanna are going to play in the Rio Olympics together, they better find a way to gel.

The first set was at least a close one and could have gone either way, but the Czech Republic got that crucial break, off Paes' serve, in the 11th game, and after a hold, they were a set up.

With the crowd, who had come in droves to support India, pulling for an immediate comeback, you felt it was time for Paes to take control, like he so often does in doubles matches.

However, nothing seemed to work for the veteran, fresh off his victory in the US Open with Martina Hingis, with those trademark volleys also going awry.

The second set was quite easy for Stepanek and Pavlasek, with a couple of breaks giving them a two sets to love lead in the match.

This was the moment when everybody started to harbour hopes of another stirring Paes-Bopanna comeback, but that was nipped in the bud rather quickly as Czech Republic broke India in the fifth game, and then in the seventh game as well to take a 5-2 lead.

Stepanek, a former teammate of Paes in the men's doubles, had the job of serving for the match, and he did that without too much fuss to give the Czech Republic a vital lead going into the reverse singles.

On Sunday, Somdev Devvarman, who played wonderfully well in the first singles round, will play the big-serving Lukas Rosol, while Yuki Bhambri will have to get past the Czech Republic team's highest-ranked player – Jiri Vesely.

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