India’s Rohan Bopanna and his Romanian partner Florin Mergea played some scintillating tennis to enter the men’s doubles final at the $7 million ATP World Tour Finals on the indoor hard courts of the O2 Arena in London on Saturday.
The Indo-Romanian pair took exactly an hour to oust Croatian-Brazilian third seeds Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo 6-4, 6-2 to level their career head-to-head to 2-all.
This will be the 35-year-old Bopanna’s second appearance at the year-ending tournament after losing the 2012 final in a super tie-break while partnering compatriot Mahesh Bhupathi.
The eighth seeds, the last to qualify for the prestigious event, were the far better pair on the day. Their return of serves, ground strokes, first serve points - everything was simply better and more effective than Dodig and Melo, putting the match completely in their favour.
Their break point conversion rate could not be better, either.
Bopanna and Mergea converted all the four break points they earned in the semi-final. Overall, they won 56 of the 101 points played in the match, also saving two of the three break point chances they handed their opponents.
Bopanna and Mergea did not start well as they just about survived a scare in their second game of the first set when they had to save two break points. But the pair came out on top when they broke their opponents in the fifth game to go 3-2 up.
Both pairs held their respective service games and the early break of serve was enough for the Indo-Romanian pair to seal the set and take the advantage in the match. Bopanna and Mergea played a very smart and cautious game, following the break of serve, which gave them crucial points in the contest.
The second set also started in favour of the eighth seeds who broke the third seeds in only the third game of the second set to go 2-1 up. But the Croat-Brazilian pair levelled the set at 2-all.
That was the last form of success for Dodig and Marcelo as, thereon, Bopanna and Mergea stepped on the gas to clinch the next four games and enter the championship match.
In the final on Sunday, Bopanna and Mergea will be up against the winner of the match between Dutch-Romanian second seeds Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau and American top seeds and defending champions Bob and Mike Bryan.
No Indian has ever won the elite season-ending tournament where only the season’s top eight players/teams get to play. Bhupathi and Leander Paes reached the final of the tournament thrice in 1997, 1999 and 2000, losing all three contests.
Paes then reached the final once again with Serbian Nenad Zimonjic in 2005. Bhupathi reached it in 2010 with Belarus’ Max Mirnyi before Bhupathi and Bopanna joined hands, but lost in the 2012 final.