Melbourne, Jan 18: It was a good day for India’s top players at the Melbourne Park except for veteran Mahesh Bhupathi, who in all probability played his last men’s doubles match at the tournament.
Leander Paes, Rohan Bopanna and Sania Mirza all won their matches in the doubles competition. But there was some disappointment in the junior section as Sumit Nagal, Snehadevi Reddy and Simran Kaur Sethi all failed to get past the first round.
Bhupathi was the only Indian to taste defeat in the day when he and his American partner Rajeev Ram lost their second round match against second-seeded Alexander Peya of Austria and Bruno Soares of Brazil.
The Indo-American pair lost in straight sets 4-6, 6-7 (7) in 97 minutes after looking like taking the match into a decisive third set.
Bhupathi, 39, a former world number one doubles player and now ranked 36, had announced late last year that this would be his last year on the circuit and that he would only play in select tournaments.
Bhupathi is playing the mixed doubles here with Russian Elena Vesnina and they are seeded eighth.
Meanwhile, Paes and his Czech partner Radek Stepanek entered the third round of the men’s doubles at the Australian Open, easily defeating Italian Daniele Bracciali and Ukranian Alexander Dolgopolov 6-1, 6-4.
The fifth-seeded Paes and Stepanek, who beat Paes’s former partner Lukas Dlouhy and Lukas Rosol of Czech Republic 6-4, 6-1, in the first round, had a clear superiority in serving, returning and hitting winners.
Yet, the Czechs forced seven break points but could not convert any whereas Paes and Stepanek clinched three of the six they had.
Paes and Stepanek won the first set easily but in the second they had to stretch themselves a bit before closing out the match in an hour and quarter.
Paes and Stepanek next play India’s Yuki Bhambri and his New Zealand partner Michael Venus, who had upset 10th seeded Jeasn-Julien Roger of the Netherlands and his Romanian partner Horia Tecau 6-4, 6-4, in the second round Friday.
The Indo-Pak Express of Rohan Bopanna and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi recorded a come-from-behind three-set victory to advance to the third round. The seventh seeds beat unseeded British pair of Colin Fleming and Ross Hutchins 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.
The Indo-Pak Express will now face 12th seeds Treat Huey of Philippines and Dominic Inglot of Britain.
Sania also won her women’s and mixed doubles matches. In the women’s doubles, Sania and her Zimbabwean partner Cara Black, seeded sixth, beat the unseeded pair of Monica Niculesu from Romania and Czech Klara Zakopalova. The Indo-Zimbabwean pair won 7-5, 6-1 to move into the third round.
Sania also moved into the first round of the mixed doubles with her Romanian partner Horia Tecau. Sania and Tecau, who are also seeded sith, had to fight hard for a 4-6, 6-7, 10-8 win over Chinese Taipei’s Hao-Ching Chan and Switzerland’s Robert Lindstedt.
Bopanna also made it to the second round of mixed doubles with his Slovakian partner Katarina Srebotnik. The second-seeded Indo-Slovak pair won 6-2, 6-3 against the unseeded pair of American Raquel Kops-Jones and Filipino Treat Huey.
In the junior category, Snehadevi lost 4-6, 0-6 to Chinese Ying Zhang and Simran lost 4-6, 2-6 to 14th seeded American Katrine Steffensen in the first round of girls singles. In the boy singles, Nagal went down 3-6, 3-6 to Australian Harry Bourchier.