Bhupathi-Bopanna enter summit clash of World Tour finale
London: Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna saved a match point to breeze into the title clash of the ATP World Tour finale after defeating Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek via Super tie-breaker, here on Sunday.
The fifth seeded Indian pair halted the winning run of the Indo-Czech combination with a 4-6 6-1 12-10 win in the semifinals and in the process avenged the defeat of the Shanghai Masters final last month.
Paes had said that Shanghai final was a kind of grudge match after the Olympics selection drama when both Bhupathi and Bopanna had refused to pair with him.
Paes and Stepanek`s third seed team was the only one to enter the semifinals unbeaten. They had topped the Group A with three wins from as many matches.
Bhupathi and Bopanna, who are making their debut at the finale as a pair, now have a chance to create history as no Indian has won the year-end championship since Vijay Amritraj`s triumph in 1977.
The Indians will face the winners of the other semifinal between English-Danish combine of Jonathan Marray and Frederik Nielsen and Spaniards Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez in Monday`s championship match.
Bhupathi is making his 12th appearance at the finale and has ended runner-up four-time, including thrice with Paes.
With Paes he ended runners-up in 1997, 1999 and 2000 while in 2010 he finished runner-up with Max Mirnyi.
Like Bhupathi, Paes is 0-4 in title matches at the season-ending championships.
In the first set, Paes and Stepanek converted their fourth break point opportunity on Bhupathi’s serve, winning a sudden death deuce for a 4-3 lead.
Serving for the set at 5-4, Stepanek hit an unreturned serve to seal the 36-minute opener.
Bhupathi and Bopanna put Paes under pressure in the third game of the second set. Paes saved two breakpoints when down at 0/40 but hit a backhand volley into the net to gift his fellow Indians a 3-1 lead.
Bhupathi and Bopanna extended their lead to 5-1 after two terrific returns in Stepanek’s service game. Bhupathi closed out the 25-minute set with a hold to 15.
The Match tie-breaker was a tight affair with the two teams locked at 3-3 and then 8-8. Stepanek served out wide to Bopanna, who lobbed too short to give Paes a smash winner.
Bhupathi saved one match point with a backhand volley and at 9-9, on Bopanna’s serve and hit another volley winner down the middle.
Paes saved the match point with a forehand volley winner, but Stepanek volleyed a backhand into the net at 10-10.
Bhupathi, serving on his team’s second match point, serving down the middle, Stepanek returned to Bopanna, who struck a high forehand volley for a winner and it ended a 85 minutes.
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