New York: Leander Paes entered the final of the doubles event at the US Open for the seventh time in his career, giving India something to cheer about, on Thursday, at Flushing Meadows here.
Playing at the Arthur Ashe Stadium, partnering Radek Stepanek, he ended the run of the top-seeds Bryan brothers, Bob and Mike of the US, in the semi-final 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.
The Indo-Czech duo had reached the doubles final last year too, where they had lost to the Bryans. On Thursday, the victory perhaps was thus doubly sweeter.
Paes and Stepanek, however, needed time to settle down to a rhythm on Thursday. The first set saw the Bryan brothers breeze to a 6-3 win in just 29 minutes. But then the fourth seeded Paes-Stepanek pair regained their composure and the impromptu jig they did on court every time they won an important point reflected their increased confidence.
The second set saw the pairs trading breaks, but in the end Paes and Stepanek emerged winners at 6-3. The third saw them take charge with an early break and they continued to lead to win at 6-4. In the sixth game, Bob and Mike had a great chance to break back and take the score to 2-4 when they raced to a 0-40 lead on Stepanek’s serve. But they wasted three break points and the Indo-Czech duo made it 5-1. That, in a way, spelt doom for the Americans. The rest of the set remained a formality as the fourth seeds wrapped it up at 6-4.
In the final, they will take on the winners of the other semi-final between the second-seeded pair of Alexander Peya-Bruno Soares and 10th seeds Ivan Dodig-Marcelo Melo.
In case they win, this would be Paes’ third US Open doubles crown. He had earlier won in 2006 and 2009.
The fourth seeds denied the Bryans a piece of history as the Americans were trying to become first doubles team since 1951 to collect all four Grand Slam titles in the same year.
Ken McGregor and Frank Sedgman had achieved the rare feat of winning Calendar Slam in 1951.
Earlier, on Tuesday night, Paes and Stepanek, made the semi-finals beating Pakistan’s Aisam-ul Haq Qureshi and Netherlands’ Jean-Julien Rojer.
Paes and Stepanek dropped the second set, but came back strongly to win 6-1, 6-7, 6-4 in the end.