The celebrations started for hosts Uzbekistan as their dynamic doubles combination of Denis Istomin and Murad Inoyatov won the men's title, beating top seeds Rohan Bopanna of India and Alexey Kedriouk of Kazakhstan 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (5) in the final of the $100,000 Asian Tennis Championship at the Tashkent Tennis Centre in Uzbekistan on Friday.
It was creditable effort by the 19-year-old Istomin, the player in top form at the moment, as he had earlier reached the singles final with a 6-4, 6-2 victory over former champion and fifth seed Goichi Motomura of Japan.
Istomin will have the tough task of matching top seed Danai Udomchoke of Thailand, who recovered from a minor slump to beat the third seed Satoshi Iwabuchi of Japan 6-3, 7-6 (3).
There was some disappointment though for the hosts in the women's section, as former world No.16 Iroda Tulyaganova played brilliantly but made many errors and lost 4-6, 6-7 (6) to the third seed Su-Wei Hsieh of Chinese Taipei.
There was a lot of cheer for the Uzbeks earlier, as a nervous Akgul Amanmuradova overcame spells of bad play and poor mobility to shut out second seed Shiho Hisamatsu of Japan 2-6, 6-1, 6-2.
The doubles final was an entertaining contest and the quality of the game was high, though the Indo-Kazakh pair was a shade below its best. There were only two breaks of serve in the whole match, with Bopanna getting broken in the first game, though he compensated by hammering a winner down the middle to break Inoyatov in the tenth game of the second set.
What separated the two teams was the high first serves of the Uzbek team that conceded a mere six points in six service games in the decider. Bopanna and Kedriouk struggled with their returns throughout the match, and had problems holding serve as well in the third set.
However, Bopanna came up with the big serves to save breakpoints in a tricky fifth game when he was forced to save three breakpoints. Earlier, Kedriouk had done well to save two breakpoints on his serve in the third game.
In the tie-break, Bopanna hit two crisp volleys and fired an ace to fetch a 3-2 lead but the Uzbeks kept themselves close to their rivals with competent play, especially with Istomin delivering the goods for most part, and Inoyatov coming up with a deadly lob early on. A service winner and a winning volley on Istomin's serve saw the Uzbeks get a matchpoint and the Indo-Kazakh combination put a volley wide in losing the match.
Inoyatov, who had jumped over the net in celebration after the semifinal victory, ran around the court like a bird in flight with both arms stretched, before shaking hands with the opponents, much to the delight of the local crowd that cheered hard.
The winners collected $3,100 and the runners-up bagged $1,800. It could just be the beginning for Istomin, who is in line for a double crown on the morrow when he takes on the man who had reached the second round of Wimbledon this season as a qualifier, Udomchoke.
Men's (semi-finals): 1-Danai Udomchoke (Tha) bt 3-Satoshi Iwabuchi (Jpn) 6-3, 7-6 (3); 2-Denis Istomin (Uzb) bt 5-Goichi Motomura (Jpn) 6-4, 6-2.
Men's doubles (final): 2-Murad Inoyatov and Denis Istomin (Uzb) bt 1-Rohan Bopanna (Ind) and Alexey Kedriouk (Kaz) 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (5).
Women (semi-finals): 3-Su-Wei Hseih (Tpe) bt 8-Iroda Tulyaganova (Uzb) 6-4, 7-6 (6); 4-Akgul Amanmuradova (Uzb) bt 2-Shiho Hisamatsu (Jpn) 2-6, 6-1, 6-2.