London: Leander Paes and Sania Mirza defeated Serbian pair of Nenad Zimonjic and Ana Ivanovic in straight sets to enter the mixed doubles quarter final of the Olympic Games, here on Thursday.
Paes-Sania beat the Serbian pair 6-2 6-4 in only 64 minutes to set up a last eight clash with top seeds Max Mirnyi and Victoria Azarenka from Belarus. The Indian pair dominated the proceedings from the start as they first broke opponent’s serve in the third game but the Serbians broke back to get scores levelled at 2-2.
However, both Zimonjic and Ivanovic’s serve was broken once each in the fifth and seventh game of the first set respectively before the winners closed out the set at 6-2.
The first set was played for merely 26 minutes.
Paes-Mirza got an all-important break in the very first game of the second set and then held their serves to win the match in the 10th game.
Paes was as usual amazing at the net with timely anticipations but credit should also be given to Sania for hitting some fantastic winners including a few booming forehand returns and some lovely down the line shots. Earlier, Leander said he and his unheralded Vishnu Vardhan played “one hell of a match” against the fancied French combination of Michael Llodra and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, on Wednesday.
Paes and Vardhan lost 6-7 (3), 6-4, 4-6 to Tsonga and Llodra in the men’s doubles second round in a gruelling contest that lasted over two hours.
Paes, who teamed up with Vishnu after being rejected by both Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna in a bitter selection row, lauded his inexperienced partner’s fighting spirit.
“Being the first time that we have played together as a team, we’ve played a hell of a match again. Our first-round match was against some really tough opponents with one player No 33 in the world in singles (Robin Hasse) and the other No 21 in doubles (Jean-Julien Rojer), and we managed to beat them,” Paes said.
“Today it was tougher. We had Tsonga who is No 5 in the world for singles and Llodra who is a multiple Grand Slam champion.
“I have to commend this guy Vishnu he’s got a big heart and I’ve had such a thrill playing with him. He’s a phenomenal competitor and he’s got big stature as far as physique and things go and that is what champions are made of,” he added.
Vishnu, meanwhile, credited his good performance to the effort put in by Paes ahead of the Games. “Lee and his team have been working on me for the last month and a half. It’s not just an overnight thing. We’ve spoken about strategies and tactics and then the game plan and I cannot thank him enough.
In boxing, Jai Bhagwan bowed out in the pre-quarterfinals of the men’s lightweight (60kg).
After starting on an impressive note, Bhagwan lost steam in the second and third rounds to go down 8-16 to Gani Zhailauov of Kazakhstan at the ExCel arena.
Contrary to the final result, it was the 12th ranked Indian who started the bout on an aggressive note and pipped his opponent in the opening round with powerful staraight punches. (agencies)