London: Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek will go into the semi-finals of the ATP World Tour Finals as the unbeaten team after they defeated top seeds Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan in their last Group A doubles’ match, here on Saturday.
Third seeds Paes and Stepanek held their nerves to beat three-time champions 6-4, 6-7 (6), 10-7 in one hour and 45 minutes.
Paes and Stepanek broke their opponents in the third and fifth games to take a 4-1 lead. In the first set, Stepanek committed a double fault to lose his service game, but closed out the set with a wonderful backhand volley that angled away .
There were no service breaks in the second set, although the American pair came through sudden death deuces at 1-1 and 2-2. The Bryans took a 4-2 lead in the tie-break, but were powerless as Paes and Stepanek won three of the next four points.
At 5-5, Paes hit a high volley winner for set point opportunity, but Bob saved it with a smash. A clever low return by Mike Bryan at 7-6, enabled Bob to cross and volley into space to end the 53-minute set.
In a 16-minute match tie-break, Paes and Stepanek took a 6-4 lead and maintained the two-point cushion. At 9-7, Mike Bryan returned into the net.
In a singles match, Juan Martin del Potro beat Roger Federer 7-6, 4-6, 6-3 to reach the semi-finals.
Del Potro thus ended Federer’s three-year unbeaten run in the tournament. Federer won 12 consecutive matches since a semi-final defeat by Nikolay Davydenko in 2009.
The Argentine guaranteed himself one of the top two places in Group B with a 2-1 record, the same as defending champion Federer who had already sealed a semi-final spot after winning his opening two round-robin matches at the season-ending tournament.
The winner of the group will face Britain’s Andy Murray while the runner-up will play Novak Djokovic.
Federer looked untroubled on his serve in the opening set against the 24-year-old but paid the price for failing to convert to break points that would have given him a 5-3 lead. The 17-time Grand Slam champion then played an error-strewn tiebreak which Del Potro took 7-3.