Another day and another cliff hanger! The top-seeded pair seem to like the challenge of winning super tie-breakers
Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan clinched a second consecutive thriller to defeat Simone Bolelli and Ivan Dodig in the semi-final of the Tata Open Maharashtra in Pune. In a match that lasted one hour and 33 minutes, they edged past the Croatian-Italian duo 6-3, 3-6, 15-13 in a nail-biter of a contest.
Playing their first ATP Tour event semi- final together, Bopanna and his partner started strongly. Bopanna put in a huge service game and held to love to take the first game. Bolelli made it 1-1 with an equally big service game.
Both the pairs held their serves till the sixth game and stood level at 3-3.
Just when Bopanna and Sharan looked settled at the net, Dodig was quick to unsettle them with his intricate lobs, making his opponents dart back and forth and forcing errors out of them.
The first break of the match, against the run of play, arrived in the eight game as the Indian duo—aided by some luck at the net—broke Dodig’s serve to take a two game advantage and make it 5-3. The onus was now on Bopanna to play to his strengths and play another big serving game. The 38-year-old did just that. Though he started with a double fault, he made up for it with three big serves and the bailed the pair out from 0-30 to clinch first set 6-3 in a little under half-an-hour.
The second set saw Bolelli and Dodig attack harder and faster. Dodig started the proceedings with a quick hold to make it 1-0. They continued to mix things up with lobs and vicious passing winners. Trailing by two games to 1, Sharan eyed another hold. However, it wasn’t to be as a higher number of unforced errors started to creep in they ended up conceding a break point to Bolelli and Dodig.
The foreign pair were well enroute to bagging their second in consecutive games, but Bopanna bailed the Indian pair out in game six to make it 2-4. Bopanna and Sharan ruffled their opponents feather in the next game after leading 30-0, but they squandered their first real chance of breaking their serve with some poor service returns rammed into the net.
The ninth—which proved to be the final game of the set—was sealed in the deciding point. Bolelli applied the finish touch with a ferocious serve to Sharan’s forehand, bagged the second 6-3 and forced the match into a super tie-breaker.
Bopanna and Sharan came back from a deficit of three points to make it 5-5. They found themselves saving two match points at 7-9, but cometh the hour, cometh the man. Bopanna saved the pair with two big serves and with a fluent backhand cross-court return and make it 9 apiece.
This point proved to be the turning point as Bopanna and his pair picked up pace and —after bottling four match points—converted their fifth match point to seal their berth in the final.
They will face the unseeded British pair of Luke Bambridge and Jonny O’Mara later on Saturday.
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