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Sania-Bopanna blown away by Czechs in bronze medal match

Last updated on: August 14, 2016 22:55 IST

IMAGE: India's Rohan Bopanna and Sania Mirza in action during their mixed doubles bronze medal match against the Czech Republic's Radek Stepanek and Lucie Hradecka on Saturday. Photograph: Getty Images.

India's tennis campaign at the Rio Olympic Games ended in disappointment as Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna were blown away by the Czech Republic team of Radek Stepanek and Lucie Hradceka in the bronze medal play-off in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday.

The Indian pair, which raised hopes of a medal with two consecutive victories to make the semis, suffered a 1-6, 6-7 humiliation in the mixed doubles contest that lasted an hour and 13 minutes.

The mixed doubles was India's best bet for a medal, as it featured only 16 teams and winning three matches would have ensured a medal.

Sania and Prarthana Thombare lost in the first round of the women's doubles, while Bopanna and Leander Paes also made a first round exit from the men's doubles.

The 43-year-old Paes, who has now appeared in seven Olympics, remains the only Indian tennis player to have won a medal in the biggest sporting extravaganza.

He won a singles bronze at the 1996 Games in Atlanta.

Stepanek was all class in the contest. He unleashed his powerful strokes, constructed the rallies well and finished points with a superlative display.

The Czechs sprayed winners all over, catching the Indians by surprise and giving them no breathing space in the opening set.

Both Sania and Bopanna dropped serve to trail 0-5.

Bopanna saved two set points in the sixth game to save themselves the ignominy of being 'bageled' before Lucie served out the opening set.

It was a disastrous start in the second set too for the Indians, with Bopanna dropping serve in the first game, but they broke back on Stepanek's serve.

They then broke Lucie in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead, but Bopanna again lost his serve, allowing the Czechs to make a comeback in the set.

At 5-5, Sania, serving in a must-win game, committed two double faults and was down three break-points. The Czechs converted the third when Bopanna's half volley soared over the baseline.

A nervous Lucie served a double fault but Stepanek supported her with his tremendous presence of mind.

Lucie smashed a backhand winner into open court to earn two match-points and the Czechs sealed the match when Sania netted a forehand.

This is Stepanek's first Olympic medal while Lucie won her second, having won one in women's doubles at the London Games.