| Second seed Paradorn Srichaphan of Thailand in action in the semi-final against Jean-Rene Lisnard in Chennai Saturday. (AFP)
Chennai, Jan. 4 (Reuters): Todd Woodbridge of Australia and India’s Mahesh Bhupathi, hailed as the ‘dream team’ by fans and tournament promoters, crashed out in the doubles semi-finals of the Tata Chennai Open on Saturday.
The pair, with 100 doubles titles between them, were trounced 2-6, 2-6 in less than an hour by the Czech team of Frantisek Cermak and Leos Friedl. Bhupathi and Woodbridge are playing the rest of the year with Australian Joshua Eagle and Swede Jonas Bjorkman, respectively.
In singles, second seed and world No. 16 Paradorn Srichaphan of Thailand set up a title clash with Slovakia’s Karol Kucera. Srichaphan beat Frenchman Jean-Rene Lisnard 6-2, 6-1, while Kucera got past fourth-seeded Argentine Juan Ignacio Chela 6-3, 7-5.
Woodbridge, who partnered retired countryman Mark Woodforde for most of his career, is third in the all-time list of doubles title-winners on 74 with South Africa’s Frew McMillan. Only American John McEnroe (77) and ‘Flying Dutchman’ Tom Okker (78) have won more.
Bhupathi, a former doubles No. 1, has 26 titles including four Grand Slams. Bhupathi and Woddbridge’s loss robbed the tournament of some of its excitement, at least for the home fans. Leander Paes, Bhupathi’s former partner, and Czech David Rikl had lost earlier.
Cermak and Friedl will take on Austrian Julian Knowle and German Michael Kohlmann in the doubles final Sunday.
In final again
Srichaphan stormed past Lisnard to reach his second straight final at the Indian Open. The best player in Asia had lost to Argentina’s Guillermo Canas last year. It will be the first final here for Kucera, who has won five career titles, since winning on indoor carpet in Basel in 1999.
The 28-year-old Slovak had upset another Argentine, top seed and defending champion Canas, in the quarter finals Friday. “I used to be a top player in 1998, but that was five years ago,” Kucera said.
“I’m a different person now, but my game is more or less the same. I think the difference is more in the head and the soul, and in those things I seem to be okay right now.”
Paradorn, who jumped up 110 places in world rankings last year, could not put a foot wrong Saturday. He served big and struck some huge forehand winners as he took less than an hour to brush aside Lisnard, down at 104th in the year-end rankings.