Bhupathi-Knowles in Dubai Open doubles final
India's Mahesh Bhupathi is in line for his third Dubai Open tennis title when he and Mark Knowles of Bahamas clash with third seeds Martin Damm and Pavel Vizner of Czech Republic in the doubles final in Dubai later on Saturday.
In the semi-finals, fourth seeds Bhupathi and Knowles upset second seeds Simon Aspelin of Sweden and Julian Knowle of Austria 6-2, 6-0, while Damm and Vizner surprised top seeds Daniel Nestor of Canada and Nenad Zimonjic of Serbia, 6-3, 7-6 (8-6).
Bhupathi, who triumphed here in 1998 and 2004, is trying to win his 43rd career title and Knowles his 49th. Knowles won the Dubai crown in 2002.
Both pairs are looking to win their second Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) title of the season. Bhupathi and Knowles won in Memphis last week while Damm and Vizner took the title in Marseille last month.
Bhupathi and Knowles converted five of six break points while saving all six break points they faced en route to their second straight ATP final. They are 12-3 in the year, having won their last seven matches in straight sets.
In the singles final, unseeded Feliciano Lopez of Spain will clash with sixth seed Andy Roddick of the US.
In the semi-finals, Lopez defeated fifth seed Nikolay Davydenko of Russia 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 in two hours and 24 minutes after recovering from being 2-5 down in the final set while Roddick surprised third seed Novak Djokovic of Serbia, 7-6 (7-5), 6-3.
"I played well tonight and I played the right way. I had to, otherwise I wasn't going to win", said Roddick, who last month won the San Jose title.
"He wasn't missing at all in the first set. He wasn't missing serves and I couldn't get into his service games. I definitely had to try to stay the course and try and tough out some games before I got the momentum on my side there in the tiebreaker."
Djokovic noted that Roddick had not dropped his serve even once, and admitted he went into the semi-final feeling nervous.
"I was nervous in the match from the start. I didn't return well, although of course considering he has the strongest serve in today's tennis it's not that easy to get the rhythm," Djokovic said.
"So I was trying to hold my serve and I was doing it pretty well in the first set. I had a couple of break points but he served out well, so I didn't use my opportunities that were given to me. That was the difference. It could go either way if I won that first set."
In the other semi-final, Davydenko broke to lead 3-1 and moved on to 5-2, before Lopez staged a remarkable fight back and swept the last five games.
"I think I was lucky. I was down 5-3 and he made a few mistakes in that game when I broke him. I took my chances and won this match. It was really good for me, because to win a match from 5-2 in the third is tough. I made it, but I think I was a little bit lucky," said Lopez.
Davydenko acknowledged that the mistakes he made when serving at 5-3 were his undoing.
"It should have been my match, but he won," said Davydenko, who nevertheless improved on his previous best performance in Dubai by reaching the semi-finals.
"At 5-3 I thought I won the match. It was bad luck. A few points on my serve I made a mistake and he played pretty well, tried to make no mistakes and pushed the ball back."