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Bested but hardly beaten

The best story of the tournament, though, just could not deliver the perfect finish. The Indo-Pak Express, as they call themselves, went down 6-7 (5), 6-7 (4) in the final. HT reports

sports Updated: Sep 11, 2010 02:06 IST
HT Correspondent/ Agencies

The biggest match on their life, on the grandest stage possible, Rohan Bopanna and Aisam Qureshi could still have come out the champions. The problem wasn't keeping up with arguably the best team in the world, Mike and Bob Bryan, but instead it was the inability to stay ahead that cost them a US Open doubles crown.

The best story of the tournament, though, just could not deliver the perfect finish. The Indo-Pak Express, as they call themselves, went down 6-7 (5), 6-7 (4) in the final.

"It's been a great run for us," said Bopanna, at the trophy presentation. "But the Bryans are the best team out there. Hopefully we will be in some other final, some time in the future, and give them a better fight."

Twice in two days, Qureshi came at the wrong side of the deal with Bob Bryan. He and Czech partner Kveta Peschke had lost to top seeds Bob Bryan and Liezel Huber 4-6, 4-6 in the mixed doubles final on Thursday.

"It was a close match," said Qureshi. "But it showed why they are No.1 in the world."

Bopanna was playing his first Grand Slam final, Qureshi, only his second. But the packed stands of the Arthur Ashe stadium rising over them didn't seem to intimidate the Indo-Pak duo. If it did, they hid it well under a cheerful banter.

The Bryans, as would be expected of eight-time Slam champions, came bouncing with confidence, and served out the first game at love. But Bopanna-Qureshi, the only team to have beaten the Bryan twins during the US hard-court season, refused to be blown away by the local favourites.

Having beaten the No.2 and No.10 seeds on their way to the final, they were rightful owners to one-half of the court. And were the first ones to win a break point in the third game. But Bob Bryan held his nerve to wrest back the advantage.

The Indo-Pak pair was playing defense, both staying at the baseline. And the Indian, especially, was impressive with his returns.

Where the team fell short was putting away the points and making the opportunities count.

With both teams strong on the serve, the match was decided on the slight cracks in the framework. Bopanna-Qureshi had one break point in the first set and three in the second, but failed to convert either of them. At the crunch, they let the nerves or the lack of big match experience show.

They lost by the tightest of margins, but they will come out of this tournament with far more positives. Also, there were moments of brilliance from both of them, a testimony to how far they've come since being regulars at Challenger events.

"It was the best match we played," commented Mike Bryan later. :The play was electric; they brought out the best of us."