Tata Open Maharashtra: Bopanna and Sharan Enters Semis

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Top seed players Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan saved 6 match points in an edge-of-the-seat thriller versus Leander Paes and Miguel Angel Reyes-Varela, to enter the semifinals of the Tata Open Maharashtra on Thursday.

 

The Game: How it happened:

After splitting the 2 sets, the Super Tie Breaker turned out to be a cliffhanger in which Leander Paes and his Mexican partner had as many as 6 chances to close the match but the Asian Games gold medallists maintained their nerves to remain alive.

At 8-8, Paes appeared to have served a double fault but the chair umpire and the linesman didn’t take a call and a livid Bopanna started an argument with the match official but to no avail.

The contest had all the ingredients of a thriller in which the top seeds finally prevailed 6-7(4) 6-4 17-15 after one hour and 45 minutes.

Just after saving their sixth match point to make it 15-15, Rohan Bopanna smashed a volley winner to gain their second match point and finished it with a lob. This landed close to the baseline, sailing over their opponents. The shot marked the end of the 24-minute super tiebreaker.

Miguel was easily the superb player on the court with his game craft, strong returns and volleying at the net.

Left-handed Divij Sharan was the easiest to attack as he just pushed the ball, giving his opponents enough time to get into position and find a suitable return.

The first break chance was created by Rohan Bopanna in the fourth game off Miguel’s serve when he found a backhand winner down the line but Mexican’s Miguel saved it with an ace.

Immediately, Miguel hit a service return winner to earn 2 break chances for his team but Rohan served solidly to save both and also the deciding point.

Paes was the only player, of all 4 on court, who did not concede even a single point on his serve in his first 2 service games even as Divij Sharan saved 2 break points and a deciding point in the seventh to stay ahead.

It was Miguel who placed a perfect spin-loaded lob when Divij Sharan served at 15-30 to earn the chances.

Rohan Bopanna held his own in the ninth and Paes then served to stay in the opening set. Sharan placed a winner between the 2 players close to the baseline as Paes conceded the first point on his serve.

Miguel’s soft hands were at play once again as they saved two set points to make it 5-5.

Divij Sharan’s serve was put under pressure in the next but Sharan and Bopanna managed to hold, saving a breakpoint with Paes hitting the forehand on the net.

The tie-breaker too was near with teams locked 4-4. From there both Paes and Miguel found a volley winner each to gain their first set point.

Sharan then, smacked Paes’ serve long to hand the opponents the opening set. Multiple times Sharan gave easy softballs while Miguel in the opposite team remained strong throughout and it made a huge difference.

The top seed players drew the first blood in the second set in the third game, breaking Leander Paes, who went down 0-40.

Rohan Bopanna found a service return winner and then the experienced Indian hit one out. Sharan hit a strong return on the second breakpoint as Miguel could not pick it.

The top seeds threw away the advantage with Divij Sharan losing his serve in the next game.

Bopanna and Sharan, though, were back in the match when Leander Paes dropped his serve for the second time consecutively, again going down 0-40, struggling with his first serve.

Two more breaks followed and Rohan Bopanna served out the set to take it to the Super Tie Breaker.

Notably, Leander Paes has not won a match in the last two and a half years when there is at least an Indian across the net.

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