The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mahesh-Max at it again

Calcutta: Thereís no stopping Mahesh Bhupathi and Max Mirnyi. The reigning US Open doubles champions bagged their second consecutive title by coming out on tops at the Monte Carlo Masters Series meet Sunday.

According to information received here, the third seeds outlasted French pair Fabrice Santoro and Michael Llodra 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (8-6) in the final lasting two hours and 10 minutes.

Down 1-4 in the tie-breaker, Bhupathi and Mirnyi used their experience and guile to good effect against two players very adept on clay. The Frenchmen had knocked out fifth seeds Leander Paes and David Rikl in Round I.

The Indo-Belarussian pair, which resumed its partnership last week after deciding not to play together for the first three months, now have two titles on clay from two starts this season. They triumphed in Estoril last week and now have eight match victories on the trot.

This was Bhupathiís 28th career doubles title, taking him past Paes. Twentytwo of Bhupathiís titles came with Paes and three with Mirnyi.

Ferrero keeps crown

Reuters adds from Monte Carlo: Spanish top seed Juan Carlos Ferrero retained his Monte Carlo Masters Series crown here Sunday with a 6-2, 6-2 win in one hour 16 minutes over unseeded Argentine Guillermo Coria.

The 23-year-old Ferrero landed his third Masters Series title and eighth career win overall to secure a winnerís cheque for 400,000 euros while Coria, 21, picked up half that sum.

As in his semi-final win over Vince Spadea of the United States, Ferrero relied on his finely-honed claycourt instincts rather than his serve, which he dropped twice, more than compensating by breaking his rivalís serve six times.

Ferrero, one of only five active players to reach the finals of all three claycourt Masters series ó he won Rome in 2002 and was runner-up in Hamburg in 2001 ó snapped a seven-month barren run with his last title success coming last September in Hong Kong.

Sundayís triumph moved Ferrero into third place in the ATP champions race place above Swiss star Roger Federer, matching his ATP entry system ranking, while Coria stays seventh in the race behind Australian Lleyton Hewitt after losing his first Masters series final.

After rain had delayed the start of the proceedings for an hour the match, scheduled to be a best of five sets encounter, was reduced to best of three following morning rain in the principality which delayed the start by an hour.

Coria had thrived in the heavy conditions in his semi- final, beating last yearís runner-up Carlos Moya of Spain. But here he never got started as Ferrero, despite a low first serve percentage at the outset, stormed into a 3-0 lead with two breaks of serve as he set about becoming the first repeat champion since Thomas Muster of Austria, winner in 1995 and 1996.

Ferrero had won the pairís only previous meeting, in the third round at the French Open last year, in straight sets, dropped serve in the fourth game but broke again for 5-2 and served out as Coria sent a forehand tamely into the net. The second set was no less one-sided.

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