Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan entered the doubles final of the Tata Open Maharashtra with a hard-fought victory over Ivan Dodig and Simone Bolelli in their semifinal contest in Pune on Friday. The Indians prevailed 15-13 in the super tiebreaker.
Bopanna got the ball rolling with aggressive serves, varying his pace in the opening game. Bolelli could only net his returns initially and then went strong on the following return. But on a much quicker serve from the 38-year-old Bopanna, Bolelli, 2015 Australian Open doubles champion, sent the ball wide to give the Indians the game to love.
Both sides exchanged games till the sixth. In the seventh, Sharan went big on his serve and followed it with a smash to put the Asian Games gold medal-winning duo back into the lead at 4-3.
In the following game, Sharan’s forehand down the line and Bopanna’s cross-court backhand gave them two break points, and they took the game with a pair of vicious volleys from the latter.
Serving for the set, Bopanna started with a double fault – the first of the match – but he kept his composure to take the game, and the set, with an ace, a forehand crosscourt return and a return from Dodig that went long.
After controlling the first set, Bopanna and Sharan committed reckless errors and give away silly points in the second. Bolelli and Dodig controlled the pace of the set and broke the Indian pair in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead.
Bolelli’s serve and Dodig’s net game helped them cruise to a 5-3 lead and, aided by two unforced errors from Bopanna, they took the set 6-3 and the match into a super tiebreaker.
Bopanna and Sharan took the first point in the tiebreaker but successively squandered their returns to trail 2-4. The pair dug deep to get back into the tiebreaker at 5-5, Bopanna being especially effective with his serve.
The Italian-Croatian pair continued to have the upper hand in the proceedings, taking back the lead and keeping it till they got themselves to double match point at 9-7. Bopanna and Sharan saved the two and got themselves one, which was also saved.
At 10-10, Sharan went for a challenge after Dodig’s return was called in. He won the challenge and another match point, but Bopanna squandered it by going long at the baseline.
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Two points later, at 11-11, it was Bopanna’s turn to challenge and win the point after his return was called out. This time, it was Sharan who squandered a match point by returning wide.
Going long on match points seemed to have become the theme for the Indians after Bopanna’s lob, at 13-12 and at their fourth match point, went well off the baseline.
With a fifth match point at 14-13, another return wide at the baseline – this time from Dodig – finally gave the pair the tiebreaker and the win.
Bopanna and Sharan will play Luke Bambridge and Jonny O’Mara of Great Britain in Saturday’s final.
Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan beat Ivan Dodig and Simone Bolelli 6-3, 3-6, 15-13.