Paes-Bhupathi enter doubles second round

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi sailed through their opening round encounter against Andy Roddick and Mardy Fish of the United States.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:08 IST
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India's top tennis duo of Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi put their Olympic medal quest on track with a straight set victory over strong contenders Andy Roddick and Mardy Fish of the United States to romp into the second round of the men's double event here today. The celebrated Indian pair overcame some anxious moments before suppressing their opponents with a hard-fought 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 victory in a tussle which lasted one hour and thirty minutes. Fate sealed The former world number one doubles combination were a little patchy in the first set which spilled over to the tie-breaker stage but raised their game by a few notches in the second set to seal the fate of the Americans in a high-voltage contest. Paes and Bhupathi, reuniting on the court after a gap of nearly two years, showed that they had lost none of their pristine touch as they went about their task in a clinical fashion, never letting the occasional lapses to upset their rhythm. The Indian star pair will now lock horns with another strong team of Roger Federer and Yves Allegro of Switzerland in the second round tomorrow. "We knew all along that it will be a tough match and were quite prepared. We were quite confident that if we play well, we can beat them. We just had to keep our composure," Paes said after the match. No worries Paes and Bhupathi were never unduly worried by the big serves of their US opponents, particularly Roddick who is currently ranked number two in the singles in the world. "We knew that they are big servers, but at the same time Mahesh and myself have played a lot of matches together and we knew how to go about. I am glad that we could do it and move to the second round," Paes said. Both the pairs held their serves in the first set which lasted 51 minutes but a few unforced errors by Fish in the crucial stages tilted the balance in India's favour in the tie-breaker. With the score levelled 5-5 in the tie-breaker, Bhupathi and Paes had a word with each other and reeled off the next two points in dramatic fashion to clinch the set much to the delight of a handful of Indian spectators on court number 4 at the Tennis Centre. The strong wind flowing across the stadium did affect both the teams making it difficult for the players to control the serves. The first set win served as a tonic for the Indians and they looked far more convincing in the second set and combined well to take control of the proceedings. They broke the Americans in the sixth game to take a 4-2 lead and then held on to their serves to wrap up the set in 39 minutes. "We played calmly. We know each other's game so well that it was not difficult. We just had to stay focussed", Paes said. (PTI)

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