Tennis

Paes, Bhupathi march on

PERFECT COORDINATION: Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi reached the semifinals of the Aircel Chennai Open with a commanding display. Photo: R. Ragu

PERFECT COORDINATION: Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi reached the semifinals of the Aircel Chennai Open with a commanding display. Photo: R. Ragu  

Four-time champions Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi took a step closer towards another Chennai Open title with a 6-4, 7-6(3) win over Phillip Marx and Ken Skupski in the quarterfinal on Friday.

Paes showed no ill-effects of the respiratory infection he had reportedly contracted in the past few days, and Bhupathi, like always, complemented his partner.

A single break, of Marx's serve, in the fifth game of the first set was enough to give the Indian pair the first set.

The top seeds surged to 2-0 in the second, as Skupski cracked on serve, but were held back momentarily as Bhupathi surrendered his service for 2-2.

Things headed to the inevitable tie-break, where the Indians attained a mini-break for 3-1 and built on it to close out the set and the match 7-6(3) in the tie-breaker when Bhupathi walloped a forehand cross-court winner after 84 minutes on court.

In singles, World No. 6 Tomas Berdych advanced to the semifinals with a 6-3, 6-3 win over unseeded Slovenian Blaz Kavcic.

Error-prone

Kavcic, who had beaten fifth-seeded Jeremy Chardy in the first round, tried to keep pace with Berdych's full-blooded forehands from the baseline, but was undone by nine double-faults, one of which gave the Czech Republic player the first break of the match. Incidentally, Kavcic served four double-faults in the fourth game of the opener.

Berdych had to pull up a level to win the second set — a break-fest that saw swaps of service games twice — before the 2010 Wimbledon finalist padded his entry into the last four with an extra two breaks, sweeping the last three games after the players were flush on 3-3.

“I'm happy I could break him back when he broke my serve (in the second set) and hold out to finish the match in straight sets.

“For my next match, I think I will need to maintain my concentration and keep the pressure on my opponent,” said Berdych, who will meet either third-seeded Stanislas Wawrinka or Robin Haase, the eighth seed, in the semifinals.

Xavier Malisse, the 2007 Chennai Open singles and doubles champion, also reached the last four after smacking Germany's Bjorn Phau 6-0, 6-2. Malisse saved seven of seven break points, and converted five of the six he imposed on Phau's serve on his way to completing a 3-0 career head-to-head against the German.

Ineffective

Phau, who had played out of his skin to eliminate fourth-seeded Richard Gasquet in the second round, was largely ineffective in his ploy of taking on the Belgian player from the backcourt. Phau was also hindered by his four double-faults, and the five aces that Malisse hurled down during the 71-minute long encounter.

“I played really well from the start of the match. We had a long game at 2-0 in the first set which I managed to win and after that it was tough for him to come back,” said Malisse.

Sixth-seeded Janko Tipsarevic set up a semifinal clash with Xavier Malisse following a 6-4, 6-4 win over Japan's Kei Nishikori. The 26-year-old from Serbia avoided going the way of defending champion Marin Cilic and Colombian Alejandro Falla — both Nishikori's victims in the tournament — when he prevented the Japanese from taking the match into a third set.

Tipsarevic broke Nishikori in the seventh game to go up 4-3, and led by a set after hanging on to his service games. Nishikori, who had come back to win from a set down in his previous matches here, raised visions of a similar comeback when he broke Tipsarevic for 2-1 in the second set. But Tipsarevic, broke right back and breached Nishikori's serve again in the seventh game for 4-3.

Serving at 3-5, Nishikori saved a match-point and held serve, before Tipsarevic disallowed any misadventures with a business-like hold, going through in an hour and 42 minutes.

The results (quarterfinals):

Singles: Tomas Berdych (Cze) bt Blaz Kavcic (Slo) 6-3, 6-3; Xavier Malisse (Bel) bt Bjorn Phau (Ger) 6-0, 6-2; Janko Tipsarevic (Srb) bt Kei Nishikori (Jpn) 6-4, 6-4.

Doubles: Leander Paes & Mahesh Bhupathi (Ind) bt Phillip Marx (Ger) & Ken Skupski (GBr) 6-4, 7-6(3).

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Printable version | May 30, 2020 9:16:28 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/tennis/Paes-Bhupathi-march-on/article15510387.ece

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