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The 'Indian Express' still surging

Last updated on: August 22, 2011 18:24 IST

The 'Indian Express' still surging

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At the start of 2011 Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi ended a nine-year separation when they teamed up for the Chennai Open and capped a glorious reunion by winning their fifth crown at the tournament.

- Congratulate Lee-Hesh

In a thrilling final, the top seeded Indian pair shrugged off a late charge to beat the unseeded Dutch-American combination of Robin Haase and David Martin 6-2, 6-7 (3), 10-7 and win their 24th title (in their 34th final) together.

The triumph, in front of a vociferous, capacity crowd, was their first in Chennai in nine years. The duo had won three straight titles between 1997 and 1999 and added to their collection in 2002.

Since then, they have had mixed fortunes while adding two more crowns to their collection.


Image: Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi
Photographs: Getty Images
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Lee-Hesh beat Bryans in semis

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Their latest title -- the third of the season -- came on Sunday in Cincinnati. It was a first at the tournament after 10 years. They beat Michael Llodra and Nenad Zimonjic in the final of the Western and Southern Open.

- Congratulate Lee-Hesh

Seeded third, the 'Indian Express' beat the fourth seeded French-Serbian combination 7-6 (4), 7-6 (2) in an hour and 41 minutes.

A day earlier, the veteran Indian pair had disposed off the world No 1 team and defending champions Bob and Mike Bryan in the semi-finals.

They were down a set and break in the second set, but went on to score a commendable 1-6, 7-6(2), 10-7 victory, their first in three meetings against the Bryan brothers this season, after losing to the world No 1 pair at the Australian Open and AEGON Championships final.


Image: Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi

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Consistent performance

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It wasn't surprising that Paes was ecstatic after Sunday's triumph.

- Congratulate Lee-Hesh

"If you had asked me 10 years ago if we would win here again 10 years later, I would have started laughing that we'd still be playing," he said.

"They are the hottest team and we had to play our best match of the year to beat them. We served and volleyed great, and played an error free match. When we had chances, we took them," said Bhupathi.

The French-Serbian duo was looking to win their third straight title, having won the Legg Mason Tennis Classic in Washington DC and the Rogers Cup in Montreal last week, and the defeat snapped their superb 11-match win streak.


Image: Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi

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No. 1 doubles pair

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In April Paes and Bhupathi moved to the top of the doubles rankings after their triumph at the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami, where they rallied to beat the second seeded Belarusian-Canadian pair of Max Mirnyi and Daniel Nestor 6-7(5), 6-2, 10-5.

- Congratulate Lee-Hesh

The Paes-Bhupathi combine has won three Grand Slam titles together -- the French Open in 1999 and 2001 and Wimbledon in 1999. While Paes has 12 Grand Slam titles and Bhupathi has 11.

They went separate ways in 2002 for unspecified reasons, although they continued to team up for India in the Davis Cup and events like the Olympics and Asian Games.

Sunday's triumph in Cincinnati should serve a boost ahead of the US Open, and, of course, the London Olympics next year.


Image: Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi

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