| Leander Paes congratulates Martina Navratilova after their mixed doubles victory over Australia’s Paul Hanley and Trudi Musgrave in Melbourne on Wednesday. (Reuters)
New Delhi: Defending champions Leander Paes and Martina Navratilova continued their march towards a second successive title after clinching a thrilling quarter final win over Australia’s Paul Hanley and Trudi Musgrave in mixed doubles at the Australian Open in Melbourne on Wednesday.
The fourth seeds were stretched to the wire by the local pair, but they put to use all their experience to carve out a 6-3, 3-6, 10-7 victory in super-tiebreak and book their place in the last four, according to information received here.
In the semi-finals, Paes and Navratilova will face unseeded Jonathan Erlich of Israel and Liezel Huber of South Africa, who upset top seeds Mark Knowles of Bahamas and Virginia Ruana Pascual of Spain 6-7 (6-8), 6-3, 7-6 (7-5) in the round of eight.
Paes is coming back from a five-month lay-off forced by a brain lesion. The Indian could not play the 2003 US Open because of the illness and his partner promptly pulled out saying she wouldn’t play mixed doubles till Paes got back to competitive tennis.
In the junior section, the Indians had a mixed day as Karan Rastogi advanced to the third round in boys’ singles but Sanaa Bhambri lost in the second round of the girls’ event.
Top Indian junior and fourth seed Rastogi packed off local boy Miles Kasiri 6-1, 6-3 to advance to the third round. He will now take on Chu-Huan Yi of Chinese Taipei.
But Sanaa could hardly pose a threat to the eighth seed Sun Sheng Nan of China and lost 0-6, 5-7.
Sanaa’s challenge in the girls’ doubles, where she paired with Indonesian Ayu Fani Damayanti, also came to an end as they lost to third seed Marina Erakovic of New Zealand and Ekaterina Kosminskaya of Russia 2-6, 0-6 in the first round.
In the boys’ doubles, the seventh-seeded pair of Rastogi and Divij Sharan was knocked out by unseeded Thomas Liversage of South Africa and Tonci Peric of Croatia 4-6, 7-5, 6-0 in the first round.
Tushar Liberhan and Weerapat Doakmaiklee of Thailand moved into the second round with a hard fought 1-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2 victory over Luis Diaz Barriga of Mexico and Maciej Sykut of US. They now face top-seeded American pair of Brendan Evans and Scott Oudesma.
On Tuesday, Mahesh Bhupathi and Max Mirnyi bowed out of the doubles losing to the French pair of Michael Llodra and Fabrice Santoro 3-6, 4-6 in the quarter finals.