Calcutta/ London: Mahesh Bhupathi and Sania Mirza’s hopes of trying to force a change in the mixed doubles pairing of the London-bound Indian tennis squad suffered a “blow”, in Wimbledon, on Saturday.
The French Open champions suffered a crushing 3-6, 1-6 defeat to Australian Paul Hanley and Alla Kudryavtseva in a second-round match.
Ever since the All India Tennis Association (AITA) announced that Leander would pair-up with Sania in the London Games, Mahesh and the Hyderabadi had been clamouring for a change. Sania had blasted the AITA for using her as a “bait” to pacify Leander, who was peeved after the association decided to send two men’s doubles teams.
There was good news for Leander Paes fans, though.
Paes and his Czech partner, Radek Stepanek, notched up a 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 (5) victory over Isreali combination of Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram in a gruelling two hour and 20 minutes battle.
Seeded fourth, Paes and Stepanek rode their better serves and broke their rivals twice in the first set.
The Israeli pair started to get their bearings right in the second set but they failed to create opportunities.
Paes and Stepanek broke them once out of the five chances that came their way.
In contrast, in the mixed doubles, the fifth-seeded Indian duo failed to match the game of their unseeded rivals.
The Australian-Russian duo sent down six aces and also broke the Indian pair four times out of the seven chances that came their way.
Sania and Bhupathi failed to create any break opportunity and also had three double faults and four unforced errors.
The Indians were better than their rivals in their first serve but they failed miserably in the second serve in the opening set.