Djokovic enters singles final beating del Potro

Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna saved a match point to breeze into the title round 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 their defeat at the Shanghai Masters final last month.

In the first of the singles semifinals, Novak Djokovic rallied to beat Juan Martin del Potro 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.

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.

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 title since Vijay Amritraj’s triumph in 1977.

Bhupathi is making his 12th appearance at the finale and has ended runner-up four times, including thrice with Paes.

With Paes he ended runner-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 a service winner 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 yield 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 at 15.

The match tie-break was a tight affair with the two teams locked at 3-3, and then at 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, served down the middle, and Stepanek returned to Bopanna, who struck a high forehand volley for a winner, ending the match in 85 minutes.

The results: Doubles: Semifinals: Mahesh Bhupathi & Rohan Bopanna bt Leander Paes & Radek Stepanek 4-6, 6-1, 12-10.

Singles: Semifinals: Novak Djokovic bt Juan Martin del Potro 4-6, 6-3, 6-2. Group B: David Ferrer bt Janko Tipsarevic 4-6, 6-3, 6-1.

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