Chennai: India`s most successful tennis
professionals Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi on Saturday survived
two tie break sets after winning the first easily on reuniting
to make the dream final of the ATP Chennai Open tennis
Playing before a capacity crowd, the Indian Express duo
started off on a facile note for a swift 6-1 win over Croats
Marin Cilic and Ivan Dodig but were tested fully before coming
out successfully with a 6-1, 6-7 (4), 10-5 score line in a 100
Few months before they made it known that they are
reuniting to grab the Australian Open title that had eluded
them in the past.
In the final tomorrow, top seeds Paes and Bhupathi will
meet the winner of the semifinal match between the
Serbo-Italian pair of Janko Tipsarevic-Simone Bolelli and the
Dutch-American pair of Robin Haase and David Martin, scheduled
to be held later tonight.
Bhupathi said "It was a tough match and difficult to play
before a 5,000 capacity crowd, Paes quipped "Chennai is
rocking". On the final tomorrow, Paes said "it is a great
start for the 2011 season and we got to play some good tennis
tomorrow to win the final".
The Indian pair played to their set pace that was seen
since 1997 before their estrangement but still played to the
same pattern even today with their trade mark approach and
made the most of the exciting contest.
After winning five straight points from 4-4 against the
Croats, the India duo had six match points but won the match
with a creditable four match points, which highlight their
preparation for the Australian Open later this month.
Playing as a pair after their last appearance at this
tournament in 2002, Paes and Bhupathi raced to a 4-1 lead in
the first set with just 15 minutes on the clock, breaking
their opponents once in the process. The break achieved on
Dodig`s serve as his attempt to send a forehand return down
the line went wayward. Paes and Bhupathi came up with another
break to win the first set.
The manner in which the Indians planned their game plan to
effectively find points as one would go lurking close to the
net for a smash after the other serves was eye catching and
the crowd enjoyed every moment of their cohesion on the court.
The Croats rarely found success when the Indians came up with
In the second set, Cilic and Dodig regrouped and starting
putting pressure on the Indians, who broke them in the third
game (Cilic) but the hosts? were broken back in the very next
when Bhupathi served.
From there on, Cilic and Dodig grew in confidence and then
the set witnessed the rivals trading breaks and the set
drifted to a tie break.
The tie-break saw Cilic and Dodig up their game, with the
former in particular sending down blazing forehand returns,
which were out of the reach of the Indian duo. After being
level on 4-4, the Croatian pair left Paes and Bhupathi in
their wake, taking the next three points to take the set 7-4.
However, Paes and Bhupathi brought in their experience in
the Super Tie break and the Croats were forced to succumb.
Bhupathi set up the victory path as his fore hand smash was
sent out with a low back hander by Cilic (7-4). Then, Paes
served and was attacked relentlessly by the rivals
alternatively directing their shots to him with Bhupathi
watching his partner.
Paes did not give up and one of forehand volley return was
sent wayward as they challenged each other for the ball.
On the odd occasion the rivals did venture forward, but the
Indians outwitted them and n another occasion, 36-year old
Bhupathi retrieved a difficult return for a delectable drop
The top seeds went 9-4 up and had five match points in
hand when Cilic send a backhand return a Paes serve ballooning
off court. The Croatian fired an ace to reduce the deficit,
but a double fault on the next point by Cilic himself gave
victory to the Indians.