Rio 2016: Sania-Bopanna lose early momentum, falter in mixed doubles SF

  • Sukhwant Basra, Hindustan Times, Rio de Janeiro
  • Updated: Aug 14, 2016 13:17 IST
Sania Mirza And Rohan Bopanna play their mixed doubles semifinal match. (PTI Photo)

Momentum is what decides the outcome of a tennis match. It’s that intangible force out there which must be harnessed and only then can a team ride astride it to victory.

The Indian combine of Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna had come in with a good plan to unsettle the American duo of Rajeev Ram and Venus Williams and it worked like a charm in the first set.

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The use of the ‘I’ formation by the Indians, wherein the player on the net stands on the middle line and is thus able to dart to either side while the partner serves, followed up by penetrative lobs by Mirza did unsettle the rhythm of the Americans in the beginning. But there was no containing Williams’ class as she eventually got her game together and from there on the Indians didn’t have any answer to the questions that her hard ground strokes posed. The final result: 2-6, 6-2, 10-3 in favour of the US.

Earlier in the match, Williams proved to be the weak link in the US team as she was broken twice in the first set. The former world singles number one put on a curiously listless display and seemed to have trouble moving. By the second set the American duo were camping on the baseline while receiving serve and that’s a defensive strategy hardly conducive to penetrative doubles. It appeared that the Indians were on song for a spot in the finals.

However, despite playing from the baseline far more than the net, the US team came alive as Willaims began to fire all cylinders. Her heavy topspin ground strokes began to land in instead of spraying all over and the US pair began to go for Mirza’s serve. The 29-year-old world number one woman doubles player was broken twice to push the match into the 10-point super tiebreak.

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However, as India took a 2-0 lead it appeared that things were back on even keel. Bopanna served a double just then but a superb down-the-line pass by Mirza on the very next point made it 3-1 in india’s favour. Serving at 3-2 in the tiebreak, Mirza’s poor run on the serve continued and the Americans affected two mini breaks to seize the moment. The Indian duo was to get no more points in the net as the Americans sealed the match taking the tiebreak 10-3.

The Indian pair still has a shot at the bronze medal for which they will now play losers in the of the encounter between Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Jack Sock of the US versus Lucie Hradecka and Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic.

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