By the skin of the teeth..

Omkar Paranjape
Saturday, 5 January 2019

Indian duo, Rohan Bopanna-Divij Sharan, set up summit clash with British pair Luke Bambridge-Jonny O’Mara

Pune: At the end of their nerve-wracking quarterfinal win over Leander Paes and Miguel Angel Reyes-Varela, Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan were barely breathing on Thursday night.

The duo had little time to recuperate, but held their composure to record tense 6-3, 3-6, 15-13 semifinal win over Italian Simone Bolelli and Croatian Ivan Dodig to storm into the final of Men’s doubles event of the ATP 250 Tata Open Maharashtra at the Balewadi Tennis Complex 
on Friday.

In the see-saw battle, that lasted for an hour and 33 minutes, the Indians were given a run for their money by the unseeded pair in a keenly-fought showdown.

In a match that witnessed constant momentum shifts and surprises, Bopanna-Sharan swept through the first set but conceded the second set.
In the resulting super-tiebreaker, the top seeds had as many as four match points to wrap up the contest, but could only make fifth match point count to triumph.

“ It was an incredibly tough match. The crowd played their part and I would like to thank them. Once it went to the super-tiebreaker, it was anybody’s game-but i’m delighted with the outcome,” Rohan Bopanna said post the grudge match.

“ We would like to continue in the same vain and hope the final tomorrow (on Saturday) goes our way,” stated Divij, who recently made a comeback to the Indian Davis Cup fold.

Tight opening set
Both the teams made solid start to the contest with firm service games in the early exchanges. At the fag end of the first set, Divij found his groove as he began to look more confident at the net, which helped the pair attack better. The Indians broke Dodig’s serve in the eighth game and consolidated to see out the first set in 30 minutes.

The second set saw the home team put under pressure, as Bolelli-Dodig pair broke Sharan to make it 3-1. The Indians hardly had a sniff as the Italian-Croat pair shored up their net game, putting away some clinical volleys. In the ninth game, Bolelli held to love helped the unseeded pair take the second set 6-3.

In the super tiebreaker, the left-right handed Indian pair fought tooth and nail, saving 2 match points after being 7-9 down to win the super tiebreaker 15-13 after 22 minutes.

Indo-British title clash
In the final to be played on Saturday, the Indians would be up against the resurgent British duo of Luke Bambridge and Jonny O’Mara. Having endured two tense matches, fatigue could be an issue for the Indians, as the Brits had an extra day’s rest-having played their semi-final on Thursday.

The 4000 strong sold-out crowd though will spur the top seeds, something they would bank on. The unseeded British duo would be full of confidence, having stunned fourth seeded Spaniards Marcel and Gerard Granollers in a close encounter.

The Indians though, dream of promise land.

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