|August 13, 1999||
Paes-Bhupathi crash out in second roundShailesh Soni
The world's top-ranked doubles pair of Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi, seeded number one here, made an unscheduled exit from the Cincinnati Super 9 tournament, losing to the unseeded pair of Andrew Florent and David MacPherson 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 in the second round.
The two Indians were playing together after a 38-day break, due to the injury to Mahesh. They were probably not all that rusty, considering that they had annexed two successive Grand Slams just before the break, but here they ran into trouble against the two experienced doubles players.
The first set saw the two Indians cruising, despite their service percentage being on the low side. Breaks in games 7 and 9 got them the first set.
Then everything, inexplicably, fell apart. The Indians dropped serve in game one of the second set, and were broken again in the ninth game. With the scores tied, the Indians again came up with weak service games in the third set, being broken in the fourth and sixth games.
The key stat to understand the story is that the two teams had won 40 points each at the beginning of the second set. But from that point on, the Indians won only 25 points whereas Florent/MacPherson won 51. The game was over in an hour and 51 minutes.
It's been a while since Paes and Bhupathi have been pushed around by a rival pair to quite this extent. The Florent/MacPherson pairing is capable of playing good tennis, and on the day played well enough to win -- but the game did yield some indications that the top-ranked Indians could be carrying the hangover of physical problems.
In fact, the only time in recent memory that Paes and Bhupathi have allowed their opponents comeback wins after going ahead in the first set were in the two matches at the Hartford World Doubles Championships last year. On that occasion, Leander was recovering from injury.
The two Indians will be back in action, as they tune up for the upcoming US Open, when they turn out at the Indianapolis Championship next week. In that event, Leander has also made it to the singles event.
Mail Sports Editor
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