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Paes-Bhupathi in second round

August 16, 2004 16:06 IST
Last Updated: August 16, 2004 18:57 IST

The ace Indian pair of Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi made a wining start to their quest for a medal from the Olympics tennis doubles event on Monday when they beat the United States' Andy Roddick and Mardy Fish 7-6 (7-5), 6-3 to advance to the second round.

They will meet the Swiss pair of Roger Federer and Yves Allegro, who got the better of Mariusz Frystenberg and Marcin Matkowskiof Poland 6-3, 6-2 in their first round match.

Should the fifth seeded Indians win that one they are likely to run into the fourth-seeded Zimbabwean duo Wayne Black and Kevin Ullyett in the quarter-finals. 

The former world number one doubles combination was a little patchy in the first set which spilled over to the tie-breaker stage but raised their game a few notches in the second set to seal the fate of the Americans in a high-voltage contest that lasted an hour and third minutes.

Paes and Bhupathi, reuniting on the court after a gap of nearly two years, showed that they had lost none of their pristine touch as they went about their task in clinical fashion, never letting the occasional lapses to upset their rhythm.

"We knew all along that it will be a tough match and were quite prepared. We were quite confident that if we play well we could beat them. We just had to keep our composure," Paes said after the match.

The duo were never unduly worried by the big serves of their US opponents, particularly Roddick who is currently ranked number two in singles in the world.

"We knew that they are big servers, but at the same time Mahesh and myself have played a lot of matches together and we knew how to go about. I am glad that we could do it and move into the second round," Paes said.

Both pairs held serves in the first set, which lasted 51 minutes, but a few unforced errors by Fish in the crucial stages tilted the balance in India's favour in the tie-breaker.

With the score levelled 5-5 in the tie-breaker, Bhupathi and Paes had a word with each other and reeled off the next two points in dramatic fashion to clinch the set much to the delight of a handful of Indian spectators on court number 4 at the Tennis Centre.

The strong wind blowing across the stadium did affect both the teams, making it difficult for the players to control their serves.

The first set win served as a tonic for the Indians and they looked far more convincing in the second set and combined well to take control of the proceedings. They broke the Americans in the sixth game to take a 4-2 lead and then held on to their serves to wrap the set in 39 minutes.

"We played calmly. We know each other's game so well that it was not difficult. We just had to stay focused," Paes said.

"Playing for the country fires me up. You cannot have a bigger stage than the Olympics. Our aim is to win the gold medal; let's see how it goes." Paes said.

"We will take one match at a time and see how it goes. We have another tough match coming up", he added.

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