| Leander Paes (right) and Mahesh Bhupathi after beating China’s Xu Ran and Zeng Shaoxuan in the doubles quarter final in Busan Wednesday. (AFP)
Busan, Oct. 9: Indian pairs are turning it on at the Geumjeong Tennis Stadium. Both men’s doubles teams (Leander Paes-Mahesh Bhupathi, Vishal Uppal-Mustafa Ghouse) and a mixed doubles duo (Paes-Sania Mirza) advanced to the semi-finals Wednesday. With Bhupathi and Manisha Malhotra already in the last four, at least four bronze medals are assured.
Paes and Bhupathi squandered early advantages in both sets against Chinese Xu Ran and Zeng Shaoxuan before regaining the initiative for a 6-4, 6-3 win. Up 3-0 in the first set and 4-0 in the second, the former world No. 1 team dropped serve once each to give the Chinese some hope.
“We were a little lax at times but when it mattered we pulled up our socks to finish the job,” said Paes. Asked if the old magic was coming back, Paes said: “It’s like riding a bicycle, you never forget it.”
On Wednesday, Paes and Bhupathi will meet South Koreans Kwon Oh-kee and Kim Dong-Hyun, who won a marathon battle with Indonesia.
The more surprising result was Uppal and Ghouse’s victory over second seeds Vadim Kutchenko and Dmitriy Tomashevic. The national champions traded two tie-breaks with the Uzbekistan pair before running away with the final set 6-2.
Uppal and Ghouse will next meet Koreans Lee Hyung Taik and Chung Hee Seok.
Paes and Sania Mirza continued with their upset spree as they took out the seasoned Thai pair of Tamarine Tanasugarn and Vittaya Samrej 2-6, 6-2, 6-1. The Indians showed great character after losing the first set tamely.
With young Sania being error-prone at the net, Paes had to take a big load to retrieve the situation. After taking the second set, the Indians struggled to close out the match. Up a break, Paes took 10 minutes to hold serve after seeing off four break-points.
It was easy once that crisis was tided over. With Tanasugarn playing well below par, the Thais didn’t pose a big threat.