Chennai: Top seeded Indian pair of Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna crashed out of the doubles event in the semifinals of the Aircel Chennai Open 2012 after losing to Israel's Andy Ram and Jonathan Erlich on Saturday.
The fourth seed Israeli pair came back from a set down to upset the title favourites in tie-breaker 4-6, 6-3, 10-8.
The 34-year-old Erlich slammed a volley from close to the net to return a Bopanna shot from the baseline to enter the final and set up a title clash with either third seeded Indo-Serbian pair of Leander Paes an Janko Tipsarevic or the all-American duo of Rajeev Ram and Scott Lipsky.
In a match that lasted about 90 minutes, the Indian pair wasted a breakpoint in the seventh game of the second set to go 4-3 up, following which Erlich and Ram won three games in succession, including game seven, to wrap up the set 6-3 and take the match into the tie-breaker.
In the tie-breaker, Erlich and Ram took the lead in the fifth point of Bhupathi's serve, when Erlich placed a serve return on the line. They went 6-4 up after Erlich rushed upfield after serving and placed a volley that the Indian pair could not return.
The Israeli pair was stretched in the tie-breaker by Bhupathi and Bopanna, but the latter's weak service returns and backhand returns let the team down.
Erlich and Ram have already made the final of the Chennai Open before, losing to the Spanish pair of Rafael Nadal and Tommy Robredo in the 2004 doubles title clash.
The first set saw both teams hold serve till the fifth game, when Bhupathi and Bopanna finally broke their Israeli opponents after wasting three breakpoints in the same game.
After allowing Ram and Erlich to come back from being 0-40 down, the Indian duo went 3-2 up after Erlich netted a forehand volley from a forward position. However, the Indian pair wasted an opportunity to go up 4-3 in the second set when Bopanna sent a return wide.
The second set saw Ram and Erlich break Bhupathi and Bopanna twice, in game four and eight.
In game four, the Israeli duo, just like their opponents, allowed them to come back into the game from 0-40 down on Bhupathi's serve. They finally broke them when Bhupathi netted a backhand return to gift them the game just after firing an ace to bring Bopanna and himself level to deuce.
In game eight, the Indian duo was broken on Bhupathi's serve as the Israeli pair went 5-3 up, wrapping up the set in the next game when Bhupathi netted a return off Erlich's serve, making it 6-3 and taking the match into the tie-breaker.