Indian challenge in the men's doubles competition of the Wimbledon ended on Thursday with both Leander Paes and Rohan Bopanna losing their respective semi-final matches after being engaged in gruelling five-setters.
Bopanna and his French partner Edouard Roger-Vasselin gave the formidable US pair of Mike and Bob Bryan a scare before losing 6-7 (4-7), 6-4, 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 in a battle that lasted for two hours and 48 minutes.
Paes and his Cezch partner Radek Stepanek lost to 12th seeds Ivan Dodig of Croatia and Brazilian Marcelo Melo. The Croat-Brazilian pair won 3-6, 6-4, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 after two hours and 55 minutes.
The experience of the US twins at this level of the competition helped them blow away the Indo-French pair in the fifth set.
A decisive 3-0 lead early in the final set sealed the match in favour of the Bryans despite a brave fightback from Bopanna and Roger-Vasselin.
In the ninth game when Bob Bryan was serving for the match, Bopanna with a fantastic down the line shot saved a match point but the left-hander served brilliantly to close out on the match on the next match point.
It started well for Bopanna and his French partner as they won the first set via the tie-breaker at 7-4.
But the Bryans staged a good comeback in the next two sets as they broke serve once in the second set and twice in the third set to win them 6-3 and 6-4 respectively.
The Indo-French pair then brought themselves back in the contest with a break of serve in the fourth set to clinch it 7-5 and force the match into a deciding fifth and final set.
In the decider, the Bryans got the crucial break in the second game and then held their serve to win the set 6-3 and seal their place in the final.
In the other semi-final Paes and Stepanek started off well winning a break of serve and wrapping up the first set in 35 minutes. The second set was also evenly contested for around 46 minutes which Dodig-Melo won with a break of serve.
The winners then broke the serve of the veteran Indo-Czech pair thrice in the third game to win the set 6-1 in just 22 minutes.
The fighter in Paes came to fore as he and Stepanek then made a comeback winning the fourth in just over half an hour to level the proceedings.
If Bopanna and his partner's loss was due to inexperience of not playing too many Grand Slam semi-finals, Paes and Stepanek with a cumulative age of nearly 75 years couldn't match up with their much younger opponents who are not even in their 30's.
Image: Bob and Mike Bryan of the US celebrate after winning the men's doubles semi-final match.
Photograph: Stefan Wermuth/Reuters