They were smiling. With clenched fists they celebrated each point they won. They were pumped up. Above all, they were enjoying their game. Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi were in their elements when they beat the Brazilian pair of Marcelo Melo and Andre Sa 6-4, 6-2 at the Olympic Green Tennis Centre on Wednesday. The seventh seeds will meet the Swiss pair of Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka in the quarter-finals.
The serves were crisp, so were the volleys. Given their age, their reflexes surprised the Brazilian pair and more than a handful of people who had gathered to witness another hope stay alive. If Paes was quick in the net, Bhupathi was grand in his return. Helped by some below par serving by Melo and Sa (both conceded breaks) and some poor volleys at the net, the Indian Express simply whistled past the Brazilians in just over an hour.
Right from the first set, they dominated the match. Paes and Bhupathi broke early, raced to a 3-1 lead and never looked back. If the contest was closer in the first set, the second was simply a cakewalk. The match eventually ended with a service break.
“It was a great performance. We were enjoying our game,” said Paes. “These victories really build our confidence. We were sharp today and hope to continue the momentum.” Though Paes had a 0-3 record against Sa — he lost to him in two singles and a doubles match earlier, he never let the thought cross his mind. “He is good. But today we really played very well.”
Despite being informed a little late about their match, Paes said they were ready. “It was pretty late when we learnt that our match is to be played at 4 pm. We were told about it only at around 10 in the morning.
It is difficult to play a match at such short notice. We need to get ourselves mentally prepared and need to plan. But then we have won. So it’s OK”.
Asked if the duo had reinvented their chemistry, Paes said: “We are professionals. We don’t need to hang around together to play better on court. We lead different lives. Mahesh has got his ways, I have mine. What matters is most what we do on court.”
Sania-Sunitha duo crashes out
A half-fit Sania Mirza and Sunitha Rao came a cropper against top seeded Russians Svetlana Kuznetsova and Dinara Safina in the 2nd Rd of the women's doubles event.
The pair fought tooth and nail but it was the Russian pair, which ended on the right side of the nearly one-and-half hour battle, which they won 6-4, 6-4.