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September 22, 2000
Paes/Bhupathi crash out
The Rediff Team
The Indian challenge in the tennis event at the Sydney Olympics ended when the former world number one pair of Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhuapthi lost to the top seeded Australian pair of Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde 3-6, 6-7(2-7) in the second round on Friday.
In a closely contested battle, the Woodies, playing their last tournament together, won the big points to knock out the Indians.
In the first set, the Indians had a break-point opportunity in the 3rd game but could not convert it. The Aussie pair got the crucial break in the eighth game, when Leander served two double faults. It was enough for the Australians to close out the set 6-3 in 33 minutes with Woodforde serving for the set. The crafty lefty with lightning-fast reflexes did not let down his partner, nor the crowd - which included members of the Australian men's and women's tennis. teams.
In the second set, the Indians improved. The games went with serves. The Indians again had a break point in the game 6th but could not convert it. The Indians, meanwhile, were holding serves easily. However in the tie-breaker the Australians upped the tempo and quickly got two mini-breaks to take the set 7-6 (7-2) in 40 minutes.
A deafening roar erupted from the crowd that had gathered at the New South Wales tennis centre's centre court as the Woodies entered and they had plenty to cheer as they wove their magic.
Fans should revel in the Woodies' success here as this could be the last chance for locals to witness the duo in action. Woodforde has declared his retirement should come into effect after this year's Davis Cup final which Woodbridge will likely miss on account of the arrival of his first child in early December.
When asked about the importance of the gold medal defence, the Woodies were most sincere.
"One of our priorities this year was to go for the gold medal," Woodforde said. "It would mean the world for us."
"Carrying the flame was the greatest moment I've had in sport," Woodbridge said.
"I had tears in my eyes. I'm an old sap," Woodforde said.
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