Leander Paes and his Czech partner Lukas Dlouhy are just one step away from winning back-to-back French Open men’s doubles title after they stormed into the final with a straight set victory over Julian Knowle and Andy Ram.

The third-seeded Indo-Czech duo defeated their 10th-seeded opponents Knowle of Austria and Ram of Israel 6-4, 6-2 in a lopsided semifinal match, which lasted 75 minutes at Roland Garros.

If Paes and Dlouhy win the summit match against second-seeded duo of Daniel Nestor of Canada and Nenad Zimonjic of Serbia, it would be the fourth French Open men’s doubles title for the Indian.

Paes has already won the title in 1999 and 2001 (both with Mahesh Bhupathi) and then with Dlouhy in 2009.

With already six men’s doubles and five mixed doubles Grand Slam crowns in his pocket, Paes, if he wins the final this time, will become the Indian with most Grand Slam triumphs with 12 titles — one more than his estranged partner Bhupathi.

Paes and Cara Black, who won the Australian Open mixed doubles Grand Slam title early this year, however, are already out of the French Open after losing their match in the quarterfinals here.

Paes and Dlouhy made a rollicking start breaking their opponents’ serve in the first game and then held their own to surge 2-0 ahead.

The defending champions then broke Knowle-Ram in the seventh game to go 5-2 up and wrapped up the first set 6-4 in 37 minutes.

A set up, Paes and Dlouhy, however, did not show any complacency and won five points in a row by breaking their opponents in the first, third and fifth games to go 5-0 up in the second set.

Knowle and Ram made a last-ditch fightback and narrowed the gap to 5-2 but it was too little and too late as Paes and Dlouhy won the second set 6-2 in 38 minutes to pocket the match comfortably.

In another semifinal, Nestor and Zimonjic beat Wesley Moodie of South Africa and Dick Norman of Belgium 6-0, 6-3.

Keywords: French Open

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