Paes-Bhupathi dust the cobwebs, sweep aside Brazilians (Lead)

August 13th, 2008 - 7:26 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Roger Federer
By V. Krishnaswamy
Beijing, Aug 13 (IANS) Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi have slowly but surely blown the cobwebs away. The Indian pair looked the champions they were not long ago as they swept aside the challenge of Brazilians Marcelo Melo and Andre Sa to reach the men’s doubles quarterfinal of the tennis competition at the Beijing Olympics here Wednesday. The Indians won the one-sided match 6-4, 6-2 in just under 70 minutes against a pair which has had considerable success for over a year.

The Indian duo, who first came together 13 years ago, attacked from the start. They served well in the first set, getting 80 per cent of their first serve in.

Overall, the the Indians kept their unforced errors to a minimum and generally combined well, prompting Paes to say: “If we play like this, we can do well. But we are taking one match at a time. Each of the teams are good here.”

They set the tone for the match with a break in the third game of the first set and that was good enough to see them through without any hint of hesitancy or hiccups.

The dominance only increased in the second set, as they wrapped it with breaks in the first game and the seventh.

It will be the third quarter-final appearance for Paes. He and Ramesh Krishnan lost to Croats Goran Ivanisevic and Goran Prpic in Barcelona in 1992, and then he and Bhupathi lost in the bronze medal play-off to another Croatian pair Mario Ancic and Ivan Ljubicic in Athens in 2004.

Paes and Bhupathi will meet the winners of the match between Swiss pair Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka and Russians Dmitry Turshunov and Mikhail Youzhny.

Winners of three titles together, two of them this season, Sa, 31, and Melo, 25, might have fancied their chances against the seventh-seeded Indian pair. But years of playing together carried Paes and Bhupathi through with ease.

Sa and Melo came together last year. And the same year, Melo also served a two-month ban for a doping violation.

Last year Sa and Melo won the Estoril title and this year they were champions at Costa do Sauipe in February and then at Pörtschach in May.

The Brazilians did well on all surfaces. They reached the Wimbledon semis last year coming through a six hour 13 minute match, lasting a record 102 games, in the second round against Paul Hanley and Kevin Ullyett.

This year they reached the final at Queen’s Club and beat Bob and Mike Bryan in the quarter-final.

Paes said: “I have played a few times against Sa and even lost a singles against him at Wimbledon some years ago. I have never won against him, but I didn’t want to think about it. I had expected that Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek would come through, but they got beaten. That shows anything can happen here.”

On the next match, Paes said: “Last night I came to know very late about Melo and Sa coming through. Now it could be Swiss or Russian pair coming up.”

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