Paes-Bhupathi lose Australian Open final to Bryan brothers

Saturday, January 29, 2011

MELBOURNE - Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi’s hopes of completing a career Grand Slam were dashed with their 3-6, 4-6 defeat at the hands of American twins Mike and Bob Bryan in the Australian Open men’s doubles final here Saturday.

Paes, 37, and Bhupathi, 36, reunited in the Grand Slams after nine years to add the only trophy missing from their cabinet.

Nicknamed “Indian Express”, the two were once the top ranked team in doubles before they parted ways in 2002. Both of them have won three of the four majors, but have twice come short of winning the Australian Open title. They were runners-up together in 1999. While Paes reached the final in 2006 with Martin Damm, Bhupathi with Mark Knowles reached the title clash in 2009.

It was the Bryan brothers’ fifth Australian Open and 10th Grand Slam title. The 32-year-old Bryans completed their career Grand Slam in 2006 at Wimbledon.

They endured their only loss in 2008, when they fell to Bhupathi and Knowles in the quarter-finals.

The top seeded Americans combined well and served big, banging nine aces, in the 68- minute duel. The two showed good court-craft and sharp reflexes to swing the match in their favour.

The Bryans began by saving three break points on Bob’ serve but then came back strongly to eke out a break on Paes’s serve in the sixth game and going up a set in 29 minutes.

The Indians tried to get their act together in the second set but Bhupathi dropped his serve in the ninth game to allow Bob serve out the set and the match.

Bhupathi said he is taking heart from the fact that “it took the best team on the planet” to beat them.

“There is a reason why Bob and Mike are the top team in the world. If someone is getting 83 percent of their first serves in, there is little you could do. But it is a good sign that it took the best team on the planet to beat us,” Bhupathi said.

“I look to play more with Leander and will be back next year.”

The Bryans said it was great for the sport to have Paes and Bhupathi back together.

“They are two of the legends of the game, we had to play our best match tonight. That was literally the best match we’ve played for a long time,” Bob said.

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