Sania-Bhupathi in mixed doubles final

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Sania Mirza and Mahesh Bhupathi rallied to beat Iveta Benesova and Lukas Dlouhy to seal a final berth in the mixed doubles event of the Australian Open.

Updated: January 30, 2009 14:20 IST
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Sania Mirza and Mahesh Bhupathi overcame a sluggish start to sail into the Australian Open mixed doubles finals for second consecutive year as they beat Czechs Iveta Benesova and Lukas Dlouhy in straight sets on Friday.

The Indians, who were runner-up at the Melbourne Park last year, trailed 1-3 in the opening set before storming back to seal the issue in 54 minutes.

In the summit clash, they will take on the unseeded French-Israeli combine of Nathalie Dechy and Andy Ram, who stunned seventh seeded Spaniards Anabel Medina Garrigues and Tommy Robredo 7-6 (9/7) 6-4.

It was hardly the kind of start Sania and Bhupathi, who have dropped just one set en route to the semis, would have wanted as Benesova and Dlouhy broke them in the opening game to race to a 1-3 lead.

However, the Indians got their act together soon after and broke back twice to take the first set in 32 minutes.

Sania and Bhupathi continued their dominance in the second set and broke their rivals thrice.

Such was their hold over the proceedings that the Indians did not face a single break point in the second set, which they wrapped up in a mere 22 minutes.

The win makes it a double delight for Bhupathi, who along with Bahamas' Mark Knowles, has also made the men's doubles finals to be played tomorrow.

Bhupathi has six mixed doubles Grand Slam titles under his belt with different partners.

His last mixed doubles Grand Slam was incidentally the Australian Open in 2006 when he had partnered Swiss Martina Hingis. Sania, however, would be aiming for her maiden Slam title.

In the juniors event, top seed Yuki Bhambri staved off the stiff challenge posed by French seventh seed Adrien Puget to enter the boys' singles final.

The Indian beat his rival 6-4 6-4 after a fierce battle that lasted over an hour.

Yuki will be up against the winner of the other semifinal between German Alexandros-Ferdinandos Georgoudas and second seed Julen Uriguen of Guatemala.

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