Sydney International: Bopanna-Qureshi in semis, Paes-Stepanek crash out
Rohan Bopanna and Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi progressed to the semifinals of the Sydney International but Leander Paes failed to rescue his 2014 season from a poor start as he crashed out in the first round with Czech partner Radek Stepanek
Bopanna and his Pakistani partner, seeded third, faced stiff resistance from Trat Huey of Philippines and Briton Dominic Inglot before prevailing 6-7(3) 7-6(5) 10-3 in the quarter-finals.
They now face giant-killers Lukas Rosol and Joao Sousa, who dumped the top seeded American pair of Mike and Bob Bryan 3-6 6-3 14-12 in their quarter-final. For Paes, it has been a nightmarish start to the new season.
At the Chennai Open, he did not get to play a single ball as his partner Fabio Fognini pulled out due to an injury. And today he and Stepanek, seeded second, were ousted 4-6 4-6 in 65 minutes by the French pair of Julien Benneteau and Edouard Roger-Vasselin.
After losing the first set, Paes and Stepanek saved a break in the opening game of the second set off the Czech's serve.
They had a chance to break their opponents in the next game but the Frenchmen saved. Paes and Stepanek were leading 2-1 when rain forced suspension of play for about 45 minutes.
The Indian was broken in the seventh game which handed an opening to Benneteau and Roger-Vasselin, who extended their lead to 5-3 by holding serve in the next.
Stepanek held his serve to stay in the match but the second seeds could not stop Roger-Vasselin from serving out the set and the match in the next game.
The winners will now take on Australian pair of James Duckworth and Samuel Groth. Paes now heads to the season's first Grand Slam, the Australian Open, without much match practice.