Tata Open: Paes-Bhupathi lift doubles title
The dynamic Indian duo of Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi on Sunday afternoon defeated the Czech pair of Tomas Cibulec and Ota Fukarek 5-7, 6-2, 7-5 to lift the doubles title of the Tata Open.
Playing before a packed stadium, the Indian duo rallied after losing the first set to win the title for the fourth time, beginning the season on a positive note.
However, the Indians, who began their journey to world fame with their first win here in April 1997, were made to sweat for the victory by the Czech combine.
It was tough going for Bhupathi-Paes in the first set as the Czechs, showing great team work offered stiff resistance and the games went on serve before Paes was broken in the sixth.
However, the Indians broke back in the next game itself and when the set appeared heading for a tie-break, the Czech duo who showed better control broke the Indians with ease for a 7-5 win.
The Czechs were not overawed by the situation in their quest for a maiden doubles title in the ATP Tour and kept up the tempo initially in the second set too, though the games went on serve till the fourth.
With Fukarek serving at 15-40, Paes came up with a fine return, which helped the Indians achieve the break to lead 3-2.
After Paes held his serve, the Czechs were broken in the seventh and Bhupathi held his own for taking the set at 6-2.
The decider was a different story as the packed stadium rooted for Paes and Bhupathi. The Czechs concentrated on overhead returns, including some brilliant ones, as they broke Paes in the sixth game.
However, in the very next game, Paes was once again in his elements and sent accurate forehand returns to break back.
Bhupathi held his serve in the eighth. The Czechs led 5-4 and Paes had the onus of holding the serve in the vital tenth game. Serving 30-all, Paes took the next point with a service winner before winning the game.
With Cibulec serving the 11th game, the Indian duo earned three break points and converted them for a 6-5 lead.
Bhupathi served the 12th game and was found wanting but Paes was at the net to wriggle the pair out of tight situations and clinch the title.