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Indian Express survive derailment attempt

Last updated on: January 04, 2011 06:46 IST

Leander Paes was right.

Amidst all the excitement surrounding his rejoining compatriot Mahesh Bhupathi, the 37-year-old ace had sounded a tad cautious on the eve of his first round match. 

"We need to get into some rhythm first as we both are coming after a few weeks lay-off," Paes had said. 

For a large part of their opening round match against the Canadian-Swiss combine of Frank Dancevic and Stanislas Wawrinka on Monday, Paes' words proved to be true.

- 'Cilic's exit bad for the tournament, but good for me'

Dancevic and Wawrinka dominated the opening set and at one stage, held four match points against the four-time champions, who bluntly put, looked jaded. 

In the end it took them all their experience and a herculean effort to score a remarkable come-from-behind 3-6, 7-6, 10-4 win. 

The Indian Express, using Chennai as a preparation for the year's first major (the Australian Open), looked set for an early exit, akin to their fate when they last joined forces (at Bangkok last year). 

However, it was the duo's experience that eventually came to their rescue.

Down three match points in the second set, the duo started focusing on the mental aspect of the game. 

Pressure was applied on Dancevic - the weaker and inexperienced player among their two opponents - and the Canadian who was serving quite well till that point suddenly lost the plot, increasingly missing his first serve.

The three match points were saved, as was a fourth a little later. And suddenly the Indian duo was serving to level the match.

The second set was duly pocketed and that marked a complete turnaround of fortunes as the Canadian-Swiss combine gave up completely in the ensuing super tie-break. Or shall we say the Indian Express got back on track.

"Today's match is a testimony of what we can do on court," boasted Bhupathi, soon after the win. Few would argue with that. 

Their win helped the top seeded Indian Express duo to stay on course for an eagerly anticipated final against the Indo-Pak Express (Rohan Bopanna and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi). And few would bet against that as well. 

However, Paes continued to maintain the cautious tone."There's still two matches to play before that," he said.

And he is right again.

The tournament had earlier suffered what was probably its biggest upset on the opening day itself when two-time defending champion Marin Cilic crashed out.

The 22-year-old Croat was beaten 6-4, 6-7 (0), 2-6 by Kei Nishikori, thereby making the bottom half of the draw lighter.

There was also disappointment at the Nungambakkam Stadium on Monday for Indian fans as Somdev Devvarman and Sanam Singh made an opening round exit.

The Asian Games gold medalists failed to make the most of the wildcard awarded to them by losing 7-5, 2-6, 8-10 to the Dutch-American combine of Robin Hasse and David Martin.

Bikash Mohapatra in Chennai