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Johnson-Palmer and Bhupathi- Paes duo lose

American Rick Leach (left) stretches out for a return while his partner South African Ellis Ferreira looks on during their match against the Americans Don Johnson and Jared Palmer in the Touchtel ATP World Doubles Challenge Cup in Bangalore on Thursday. - Photo: K. Gopinathan

American Rick Leach (left) stretches out for a return while his partner South African Ellis Ferreira looks on during their match against the Americans Don Johnson and Jared Palmer in the Touchtel ATP World Doubles Challenge Cup in Bangalore on Thursday. - Photo: K. Gopinathan  

BANGALORE, JAN. 31. The top seeded Americans Don Johnson and Jared Palmer and the Indian stars Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes were defeated in straight sets. The two upsets in the first two matches this evening sent the organisers scurrying for calculations to determine the semifinalists of the Touchtel ATP World Doubles Challenge Cup at the Kingfisher McDowell KSLTA court here.

Ellis Ferreira and Rick Leach shut out the top seeded Don Johnson-Jared Palmer combine at 6-4, 7-6 (7-3). Ellis Ferreira and Rick Leach thus topped the three-way tie caused by the upset in the Touchtel group.

The Bryan twins - Bob and Mike - with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Chris Haggard (SA) and Tom Vanhoudt (Belgium) were also in the fray for a semifinal spot but were kept away on set percentages. Johnson-Palmer pair squeaked through on head-to head result against the Bryans after being level on 4-3 set scores.

It was Ellis who guided the pair to straight-set win. Rick Leach played some superb backhand cross-court shots that brooked no answer.

A seventh game break of Palmer's serve gave Ellis and Rick the first set at 6-4. The second set went with serve with Ellis saving two break points in the tenth game. In the tie- breaker, Palmer double-faulted to give Ellis a 6-2 advantage and the veterans scored a 7-3 win.

Bob and Mike Bryan scored a 6-3, 6-2 win but failed to get a semifinal berth. The Chris Haggard-Tom Vanhoudt team had no clue against the Bryans and surrendered meekly.

Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes' vulnerability was exposed by Petr Pala and Paul Vizner of the Czech Republic.

The Indian duo did show flashes of brilliance but it was interspersed with rash and irrevocable tennis. Bhupathi in particular looked sluggish especially at the baseline while Leander's brilliance at times was restrained at the net.

After trading serves for a 6-6 score, Leander and Mahesh stared at defeat in the tie-breaker at 1-5. But a touch of brilliance at the net from Leander ensured the two cut down the defecit to 4-5. The effort came to nought as Vizner twice lobbed effectively to clinch the set 8-6.

In the second set, Pala used his height to negate the lobs and smash away winners. Leander surrendered the initiative in the 11th game after saving a break point as Mahesh returned wide and Pala served out the set and match at love.

The results:

Touchtel Group: Ellis Ferreira (SA)/Rick Leach (US) bt Don Johnson/Jared Palmer 6-4, 7-6 (7-3); Bob Bryan/Mike Bryan (US) bt Chris Haggard (SA)/Tom Vanhoudt (Bel) 6- 3, 6-2.

Bharti Group: Petr Pala/Pavel Vizner (Czech Republic) bt Mahesh Bhupathi/Leander Paes (Ind) 7-6 (8-6), 7-5.

Wednesday's result: Ellis Ferreira (RSA)/Rick Leach (U.S.) bt Chris Haggard (RSA)/Tom Vanhoudt (Bel) 6-7 (3-7), 6-1, 6-3.

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Bhupath-Paes crash out

BANGALORE, JAN. 31. The Indian duo of Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes crashed out of the Touchtel World Doubles Challenge Cup, after Mark Knowles and Brian MacPhie won the last tie of the group against de Jager and Robbie Koenig 6-3, 7-6 (7-3).

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