Top seeds Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan fought back from a set down to clinch a thriller in the Super Tiebreak against fellow Indian Leander Paes and partner Miguel Angel Reyes-Varela at the Tata Open Maharashtra on Thursday.
The all-Indian pair saved six match points in front of a packed, loud and equally-divided crowd on Court 1, to win the quarter-final clash 6-7(4), 6-4, 17-15 in an hour and 46 minutes.
The Indian pair are playing their first tournament together on the ATP Tour, as compared to their opponents who have been playing together for the last few months, and took their time to adjust to the conditions.
Neither pair gave up a break in the 48-minute-long first set, with Bopanna-Sharan saving seven break points but failing to convert the one set point they had on Paes’s serve. In the tiebreak, Paes showed his deft touch at the net and got two set points, which they converted when Sharan hit long.
The first break of the match came when the top seeds broke Paes but were broken right back. The teams traded breaks twice, with Paes and Sharan’s serve being broken in consecutive games.
But the Mexican’s serve was then broken for the first time, which proved to be decisive. Serving for the set, Bopanna didn’t leave any room for error as he closed out the set to love. The senior partner in the pair was much more solid on his serve, even as Sharan struggled.
The Super Tiebreak that followed was a high-intensity scramble with the momentum shifting with every point. The top seeds got a mini break on Paes’s serve to go 3-0 up but the lower-ranked pair pulled back to keep level till 8-8.
The most dramatic part of the match was when Paes seemed to have served a double fault, which was not spotted by the lines judge or the umpire, which ended up giving them match point. Bopanna was understandably upset and had an argument with the chair, but managed to make a solid first serve to bring it back level.
In the mad dash that followed thereafter, the top seeds held their nerves on six match points, but converted the second one they got to secure their semi-final spot. At 15-15, Bopanna smashed a volley and clinched the match with what he called “a perfect lob”, ending the exciting, 24-minute Super Tiebreak.
The last Indians standing at India’s only ATP 250 tournament will take on Ivan Dodig and Simone Bollelli for a place in the finals on Friday.