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Sydney International tennis: Bopanna-Mergea in final; Halep loses to Kuznetsova

Last updated on: January 15, 2016 15:47 IST
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 Romania's Florin Mergea, left, celebrates with India's Rohan Bopanna

IMAGE: Romania's Florin Mergea celebrates with India's Rohan Bopanna. Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty Images

Rohan Bopanna and his Romanian partner Florin Mergea entered the Sydney International final after a straight sets victory over Thomaz Bellucci and Leonardo Mayer, on Friday.

The fourth seeded pair defeated their Brazilian-Argentine opponents 7-6(8), 6-2.

The Indo-Romanian pair will face Jamie Murray of Great Britain and Brazil's Bruno Soares in the final.

Soares and Murray beat the Polish pair of Lukasz Kubot and Marcin Matkowski 7-5, 2-6, 10-3 in the other semi-final.

Bopanna had won the tournament last year, partnering Canada's Daniel Nestor.

"Through to r 1st final of 2016,Really happy to be in the final & looking forward to a great match tom, @fmergea @SydneyTennis @ATPWorldTour," Bopanna later tweeted.

Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova plays a shot during her women's singles semi-final against Romania's Simona Halep on Friday

IMAGE: Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova plays a shot during her women's singles semi-final against Romania's Simona Halep on Friday. Photograph: Jason Reed/Reuters

Earlier, world No 2 Simona Halep gave her injured left leg a good workout but bowed out of the Sydney International in the semi-finals after a hard-fought 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-3 loss to Svetlana Kuznetsova.

Kuznetsova will play Costa Rican qualifier Monica Puig for the title later on Friday as organisers of the Australian Open warm-up look to catch up after Thursday's violent storm severely disrupted the event.

Halep, who on Friday was drawn to play a qualifier in the season's opening Grand Slam, came into the tournament with fitness concerns after pulling out of last week's Brisbane International due to a long-term Achilles injury.

The Romanian's match against former French and US Open champion Kuznetsova was a thorough test of her fitness before she decamps to MelbournePark and she played a full part in a tight, two hour 45-minute contest.

Simona Halep plays a backhand against Svetlana Kuznetsova

IMAGE: Simona Halep plays a backhand against Svetlana Kuznetsova. Photograph: Matt King/Getty Images

The match started on Thursday evening but Halep was unable to convert her 5-4 overnight lead into a 1-0 advantage when it resumed in largely dry but blustery conditions on Friday.

Kuznetsova won the opening set on a tiebreak but Halep broke the 30-year-old's first service game in the second and evened up the contest after 51 minutes when the Russian netted a return.

The deciding set was again a tight affair studded with quality rallies which Kuznetsova won only after she had saved two break points while serving for the match.

Puig continued her fairytale run at Olympic Park when she converted a 4-0 15-0 overnight lead to win the first set 6-0 and Swiss Belinda Bencic decided she could no longer continue.

"I retired today because I was throwing up all morning and feeling sick," Bencic, the 12th seed at the Australian Open, said in a message to organisers.

"In respect of Monica, I wanted to go to court to at least try."

Australia's Bernard Tomic speaks at a news conference after withdrawing from his mens' singles quarter-final match against Russia's Teymuraz Gabashvili on Friday

IMAGE: Australia's Bernard Tomic speaks at a news conference after withdrawing from his men's singles quarter-final against Russia's Teymuraz Gabashvili on Friday. Photograph: Jason Reed/Reuters

Top seed Bernard Tomic retired in the second set of his Sydney International quarter-final on Friday after making it clear to the umpire his focus was on next week's Australian Open.

Tomic, once dubbed "Tomic the Tank Engine" in his native Australia after being accused of giving up in a match, was 6-3, 3-0 down to Teymuraz Gabashvili when he told officials he was unable to continue.

Rain prevented any matches being completed on Thursday so Tomic, if he had beaten the Russian, would have had to play a semi-final later on Friday, as well as potentially Saturday's final, before taking on Denis Istomin at the Australian Open.

Tomic later told reporters he had been feeling a "bit sick" on Thursday evening and a conversation with the umpire picked up by the on-court microphones during a break in play in the first set showed where his priorities lay.

"I got a good draw in Melbourne, it's just come out, I'm looking to Melbourne," said the world number 17, adding that even if he won the title in Sydney he would move up only one spot in the rankings.

"I have to make the final to make (rankings) points, I have to win to go 16th in the world," said Tomic, who won his first ATP title in Sydney in 2013.

Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov plays a backhand against Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine during their quarter-final on Friday

IMAGE: Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov plays a backhand against Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine during their quarter-final on Friday. Photograph: Matt King/Getty Images

Gabashvili will play Viktor Troicki in his first ATP Tour semi-final later on Friday after the Serbian defending champion came from a set down to beat Nicolas Mahut 4-6, 6-3, 6-3.

Grigor Dimitrov, continuing his promising start to the new season, will face Gilles Muller of Luxembourg in the other last four contest at Olympic Park.

The Bulgarian was leading his quarter-final against Alexandr Dolgopolov 4-6, 6-3, 4-2 when it was interrupted by a violent thunderstorm on Thursday.

The 24-year-old wasted little time in wrapping up the final set 6-4 with an ace on his first match point on Friday, however, despite the uncertainties caused by the weather.

"It's tough, we were on and off the court four times yesterday but it's in the game," Dimitrov said.

Muller was the first player to advance to the semi-finals when he completed a 7-6(5) 6-3 win over Frenchman Jeremy Chardy in another match interrupted on Thursday.0

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