India's tennis campaign at the London Olympics met with a disappointing end, as Leander Paes and Sania Mirza were knocked out in the mixed doubles quarter-finals on Saturday.
Paes-Sania lost 5-7, 6-7(5) to the top seeded pair of Max Mirnyi and Victoria Azarenka of Belarus. The match was spread over two days after bad light halted play on Friday, with the Belarus pair leading 7-5, 3-2.
Paes-Sania fought bravely, but the failure to cash in on break points dented their chances. Out of eight chances in the second set, they could convert only one.
Nevertheless, they stretched the second set to the tie-breaker, which itself was a tight affair. But it was not meant to be the Indians' day.
The mixed doubles event was considered India's best bet for a medal as the draw was of 16 pairs and a team needed to win three matches to win a bronze.
The defeat means Sania's career may end without an Olympic medal as the injury-ravaged Indian may not play in the next Games in Brazil.
Paes, thus, remains the only tennis player from the country to win an Olympic medal a men's singles bronze at the 1996 Atlanta Games.
The build-up to the Olympics was marred by a selection row as players resorted to bickering.
Both Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna refused to partner Paes and insisted on being paired together. However, they could not go beyond the second round.
Paes and Vishu Vardhan also bowed out after a second round defeat, though the pair fought valiantly against tough opponents.
Photograph: Mark Humphrey/AP