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Paes-Rikl in semis
June 03, 2003 20:35 IST
India's Leander Paes and David Rikl of the Czech Republic rallied from the brink of defeat to shock second seeds Mahesh Bhupathi and Max Mirnyi of Belarus in the quarter-finals of the men's doubles at the French Open.
The fifth seeds won a tough quarter-final match 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 on Tuesday to set up a meeting with Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan of the United States in the semi-finals.
The Bryan twins defeated Massimo Bertolini of Italy and Sebastian Prieto of Argentina 6-1, 6-4 in their quarter-final match.
In the other semi-final, 11th seeds Paul Haarhuis of the Netherlands and Yevgeny Kafelnikov of Russia will face 10th seeds Wayne Arthurs and Paul Hanley of Australia.
Haarhuis and Kafelnikov defeated 16th seeds Gaston Etlis and Martin Rodriguez of Argentina 2-6, 6-4, 6-1 while Arthurs and Hanley defeated Lucas Arnold and Mariano Hood of Argentina 4-6, 7-6(4), 9-7 in the quarter-finals.
This was third meeting between the estranged Indian partners, who had won the French Open doubles title in 1999 and 2001, with both having a win each. And what a meeting it turned out to be. Just when it looked as if the second seeds would canter through to the semi-finals, Paes and Rikl got cracking to fashion a memorable victory.
After being broken in the third game of the first set, Bhupathi and Mirnyi pulled up their socks and never looked behind thereafter in the set as they broke Paes and Rikl in the fourth and sixth games to win the set with a degree of comfort.
The second set too looked like going the same way after Bhupathi and Mirnyi effected a vital break in the first game itself and held serve thereafter. But as they were poised for an easy victory, Paes and Rikl returned the break in the tenth game to level scores at 5-5. They held serve in the next game and then handed the second seeds a love game in the 12th to take the set at 7-5 and make it a set apiece.
The decider was a battle royal with games going with serve till Paes and Rikl broke in the sixth game. That proved to be the all-important break of the match as the fifth seeds held thereafter before handing out a love ninth game to take the set and match at 6-3.