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Paes-Bhupathi crash out
August 15, 2008 15:43 IST
Last Updated: August 15, 2008 16:51 IST
Leander Paes [Images] and Mahesh Bhupathi [Images], India's best bet for a medal at the Olympics [Images], will return from Beijing [Images] empty-handed. The ace Indian duo was tamed by the silky Swiss pair of Roger Federer [Images] and Stanislas Wawrinka in a men's doubles quarter-final match spread over two days because of rain.
The Swiss won 6-2, 6-4 in an hour and 22 minutes to set up a semi-final meeting with top seeds Bob and Mike Bryan of the United States, who beat Guccione/Lleyton Hewitt [Images] of Australia [Images] 6-4,6-3.
Stung by the shock defeat against to James Blake in singles, Federer joined hands with Wawrinka to unleash his frustration on Paes and Bhupathi, and the Indians could only watch the scratch Swiss pair decimate them with consummate ease.
Rain interrupted the match with the Indians trailing 1-4 on Thursday night and things were hardly any different when the tie resumed on Friday.
Federer played the same breathtaking tennis, with Wawrinka playing second fiddle to perfection.
In Friday's first game, Bhupathi held serve to reduce the deficit, but the Swiss hit back as Wawrinka too held serve before Federer proved why he is considered among the all-time greats with a backhand half volley to seal the set.
Their backs to the wall, Paes and Bhupathi fought tooth and nail in the second set, desperately hoping to stay afloat. The first nine games went with serve but the Swiss did not relax even though they led 5-4.
The 10th game started on an ominous note, with Bhupathi's return twice sailing wide and Wawrinka making it 40-15 with a scorcher of a return.
Leander smashed one up front hoping to hang around, but even he could not delay the inevitable and India's medal hopes went up in smoke when Bhupathi, for the umpteenth, knocked the ball long and wide.
"We just could not figure out what Roger was doing in the court. He proved why he is among the all-time greats," a dejected Paes later said.
"It was heartbreak for us. We've played together so long and it (Olympic medal) was the only thing missing in our showcase. We came to it on a couple of occasions and had half chances too, but, in the end, we could not do it," Paes said.
"Probably you cannot do much when you have the best player in the world on the other side of the net and with him a player who does not miss anything.
"It was unbelievable the way Federer came out blazing all guns. It seems they had consulted someone who knows our game very well, especially the way they were serving," he added.
Asked if he got the impression that Federer was enjoying himself, Paes said, "Probably little too much."
Bhupathi too was in a pensive mood and said, "It was very disappointing. We came here as prepared as we could have and played quality tennis in the last two rounds. Too bad we could not do it, that too on our Independence Day."
Both Paes and Bhupathi dismissed the notion that they were unable to recreate the old chemistry.
"There was nothing like that. We felt that right after we landed here," Bhupathi said.With the defeat of Paes-Bhupathi, India's tennis campaign in the Beijing Olympics ended. Sania Mirza [Images] had conceded her first round singles match due to injury, while she and Sunitha Rao bowed out in the second round of women's doubles.
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