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Rediff.com  » Sports » Paes-Bhupathi on course, Bopanna-Qureshi ousted

Paes-Bhupathi on course, Bopanna-Qureshi ousted

Last updated on: January 24, 2011 16:51 IST

Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi remained on course for a maiden Australian Open title following a hard-fought 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 win over Tommy Robredo and Marcel Granollers of Spain on Monday.

The third seeds got the better of the 13th seeded Spanish pair in a see-saw contest that lasted 112 minutes.

Things, however, did not fall in place for Rohan Bopanna and Pakistan's Aisam -ul-Haq Qureshi.

The 'Indo-Pak Express' went down fighting to France's Michael Llodra and Nenad Zimonjic of Serbia 6-3, 6-7, 6-7 in another tough third round match which spanned over two hours.

In the quarterfinals, Paes and Bhupathi will play Llodra and Zimonjic.

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Leander Paes and Mahesh BhupathiThe Indian Express, who reunited again to compete at the year's first major, had a prefect preparation at Chennai, winning their fifth Chennai Open title and their 24th overall as a pair.

However, in their long and illustrious careers neither Leander nor Mahesh have ever won the men's doubles title at Melbourne Park.

The duo did reach the final in 1999 -- losing in five sets to the Swedish-Australian combination of Jonas Bjorkman and Patrick Rafter.

However, since then all they have to show for their efforts Down Under is one final defeat apiece -- Leander, along with Czech Martin Damm, losing the 2006 decider and Mahesh (alongside Mark Knowles of Bahamas) coming up second best in the 2009 final.

The Spaniards, it suffices to say, were competitive without being brilliant.

The first set witnessed three breaks of serve, Paes being the first player to drop.

The Spanish duo had another opportunity to break Paes in the seventh game and take complete control of the set. However, their failure to do so gave the Indian pair the leeway they so desperately wanted.

Granollers was broken in the eighth and Robredo in the 10th as the 'Indian Express' took the opening set in 33 minutes.

A single break of serve was enough to help the Spaniards pocket the second set. And, that set the stage for the all-exciting third set.

Robredo dropped serve at love in the fifth game. However, the Spaniards returned in kind, breaking Paes's serve, the latter being guilty of serving a double fault on break-point.

It went on serve till the 10th game when the Indian pair, leading 5-4, pressurised Robredo's serve again. The Spaniard blinked, dropping at love. And it was all over.

The 'Indian Express' had played way below their best. However, it was their experience that had helped them to stay on course for the lone major trophy missing from their cabinet. 

Against Llorda and Zimonjic, Bopanna and Qureshi, seeded 10th, got off to a great start, winning the first set 6-3.

But the Indo-Pak duo faced some stiff resistance from Llodra and Zimonjic in the next two sets.

Both the pairs fought hard and matched each other in all departments of the game to stretch the second as well as the third sets to tie-breakers.

While the second set went on for almost an hour, the third and the final set saw a enthralling 50-minute battle.

In both the tie-breakers, Bopanna-Qureshi failed to finish it off, even as Llodra and Zimonjic managed to earn crucial points to seal the affair with 6-7 (6-8) and 6-7 (3-7) wins respectively.