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Bhupathi-Bopanna win men's doubles gold
October 30, 2003 14:33 IST
Last Updated: October 30, 2003 16:19 IST
Grand Slam doubles champion Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna were made to sweat before getting the better of Sunil Kumar Sipaeya and Vinod Sridhar 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 in the men's doubles tennis final at the Afro-Asian Games in Hyderabad on Thursday.
Their triumph gave India its fourth gold in the tennis competition.
The men's final was another 1-2 finish after Sania Mirza and Rushmi Chakravarthy won the gold and silver medals in the women's singles.
In the men's singles semifinals, Vijay Kannan kept alive India's hopes of a clean sweep of gold medals as he rallied to quell a strong challenge from Sunday Maku of Nigeria, winning 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(7/4), to set up a title clash with Johnny Arcilla of The Philippines.
Arcilla also came back from a set down to score a 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 victory over unseeded Sony Kayombo of Cango, who entered the semis by default after India No.1 Prakash Amritraj pulled out of the event following an illness.
Meanwhile, Sania and Rushmi defeated Czarina Arivelo and Patricia Sandos of The Philippines 6-4, 6-0 to enter the women's doubles final.
Third seeds Sipaeya and Sridhar had nothing to lose and went all out against their more experienced compatriots.
Bhupathi, the holder of four Grand Slam doubles titles, and Bopanna got off to a flying start, breaking Sipaeya's serve in the first game itself, but Bopanna was broken back in the fourth. The teams traded breaks in the next three games, with Sipaeya, Bhupathi and Sridhar failing to hold serve.
Bhupathi, serving for the set at 5-4, was again in trouble. He conceded three break-points as he double-faulted and Sipaeya came up with a brilliant return. But he drew on his experience to hold serve and take the set.
In the second set games went with serve till the eighth when Bhupathi was broken. Both Bhupathi and Bopanna made a few costly errors, the former messing up with an easy volley from close to the net as Sipaeya and Sridhar went up 5-3 and took the set with an easy service game.
The third seeds then broke Bhupathi's serve in the first game of the decider, but their joy was short-lived as Bopanna played some breathtaking shots, to break Sridhar in the next game. From then on the top seeds took control with good court coverage and attacking shots. They earned two more breaks in the sixth and eighth to complete the formalities.
"We did not get off to a good start. In the end we played very good tennis. They served well," Bhupathi said after the match.
Mahesh Bhupathi/Rohan Bopanna bt Sunil Sipaeya/Vinod Sridhar 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.
Afro-Asian Games: Complete Coverage