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Bad start for Mahesh-Max

Calcutta: It wasn’t the start Mahesh Bhupathi and Max Mirnyi were hoping for. The second seeds at the year-ending Masters Cup Doubles championship were shocked by Argentines Gaston Etlis and Matin Rodriguez in their round-robin league match in Houston on Saturday.

According to information received here, Bhupathi and Mirnyi were beaten 4-6, 4-6 by the lowest ranked duo in the eight-team field. The second-ranked Bhupathi-Mirnyi, aspiring to topple leaders Bob and Mike Bryan in the year-end rankings, will now have to win both their league engagements — against Mark Knowles-Daniel Nestor and Wayne Arthurs-Paul Hanley — to have any hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals.

The Bryan twins, who held a thin 24-point lead over Bhupathi-Mirnyi going into the Houston meet squeezed out a 7-5, 6-7 (0-7), 7-6 (7-4) victory over Martin Damm and Cyril Suk in two hours and 42 minutes after saving four match-points.

Jonas Bjorkman and Todd Woodbridge battled with Frenchmen Fabrice Santoro and Mikael Santoro for two hours and 55 minutes before losing 6-7 (1-7), 6-3, 4-6.

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