Tennis

Paes-Bhupathi duo wins a thriller

JOB DONE: Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi shake hands with Switzerland’s Stanislas Wawrinka and Canada's Frank Dancevic after their victory.

JOB DONE: Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi shake hands with Switzerland’s Stanislas Wawrinka and Canada's Frank Dancevic after their victory.  

The top-seeds and home favourites, Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi, survived four match points before pulling through 3-6, 7-6(8), 10-4 against Stanislas Wawrinka and Frank Dancevic on the Stadium Court, in the early hours of Tuesday.

The Indian pair has not fared particularly well during their nine-year estrangement. The star duo lost in the first round in Bangkok and Indianapolis, and last night, they appeared headed for another fast-track exit. The current association, incidentally, is in preparation for the upcoming Australian Open.

Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi, facing three match points at 3-6 in the second set tie-break (and their fourth at 7-8), turned it around to win 12 of the last 16 points, ending the match on a high.

“Winning a game when the chips are down is the hallmark of a great side. The Woodies (Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde), (Jacco) Eltingh and (Paul) Haarhuis always used to do that and it was good for Mahesh and me to get this first win in a difficult game”, said Paes.

Dedicating the win to Bob Carmichael, the former Australian player and coach, Paes said: “This one was for Bob. He always said anyone can win when they are playing good, but wining games on your bad days is what only the best teams do.”

Bhupathi said he was happy to get the first-round fixture out of the way. “The win has given us a lot of confidence. At one point, we had almost given up hope. It seemed they were serving from a tree.

“But now that we have overcome a tough team, we are the front runners for the tournament” he said.

The match was scheduled for a late start and it was not just the spectators who had stayed behind that were struggling to keep their concentration going.

“I didn't feel tired, but sleepy. The sleep was getting to me and Hesh had to remind me of the score” said Paes half-jokingly.

Close contest

The match, a tightly-contested affair, threatened to boil over, especially after Wawrinka's call for a second look on a close line decision during the second set — about the time the Indians were finally making a fist of it — was denied by the umpire.

“Wawrinka wanted to refer a line call, but the umpire didn't give him permission. I just went up to the net and told the umpire to resume, because they were wasting time, and we were just getting our rhythm back," said Bhupathi.

Despite the thin margins that separated the teams in the end, Bhupathi was happy to take home the positives.

“By the ninth game (of the second set), things started working our way.

The backhand shots seemed to come off, the serves came off well, and we were coordinating well and could execute our plans to perfection,” he said.

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Printable version | Jun 3, 2020 2:42:41 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/tennis/Paes-Bhupathi-duo-wins-a-thriller/article15506255.ece

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