US Open: Paes-Stepanek set-up final clash with Bryan brothers
New York, Sep 7 (IANS) India's ace tennis player Leander Paes and his Czech partner Radek Stepanek set-up a final date with second seeded American twins Mike and Bob Bryan in the US Open men's doubles.
Paes and Stepanek cruised into the final after Spaniards Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez retired due to injury in the first set of the semi-final clash here at the Flushing Meadows here Thursday.
Friday's title clash will be a repeat of the Australian Open final, where Paes-Stepanek had beaten Bryans. The two teams have split the four matches they have played this year.
The scoreline read 6-6, when the sixth-seeded Spaniards retired against the fifth seeded Indo-Czech pair.
A competitive first set was halted at 5-5 in the first set when Lopez received a lengthy medical timeout due to a calf injury. Two games later, Lopez indicated that he would be unable to continue the match before limping off the court.
The Indian-Czech team grabbed an early break on Lopez's serve to lead 2-1 after Stepanek fired a volley at Granollers.
But while the Spanish team had far fewer opportunities, they made the most of the ones they had. A titanic nine deuce game on Lopez's next service outing at 2-4 resulted in six missed break point opportunities for Paes and Stepanek.
Meanwhile, the Spanish pair converted on the lone break point chance they had all set in the very next game. That leveled the set at 4-4 when Paes dumped a backhand volley into the net.
Lopez called the trainer at 5-5, 15-15 to address his calf injury that had begun to affect his movement. He managed to stave off two break points and hold serve, but the crafty Indian began hitting drop shots and Lopez was unable to even attempt to run for them. When Paes held serve to send the match into a tiebreak, Lopez told his partner that he would be unable to continue.
Paes said he felt bad for Marc.
"I feel sorry for Marc. We all come here to entertain you and they are great guys," Paes said. "I have a great partner. He really pushed me today and pulled the whip out, which is probably what I needed. We are looking forward to the final."
Paes has won two US Open men's doubles title in 2006 (with Martin Damm) and 2009 (with Lukas Dlouhy), as well as a mixed doubles title in 2008 (with Cara Black).
In the other semi-final, the Bryan brothers beat the ninth seeded Pakistani-Dutch pairing of Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi and Jean-Julien Rojer 6-3, 6-4.
In the other semi-final, Mike and Bob never lost serve while earning 11 break point chances against Qureshi and Rojer. Although they only converted on two of them, one break of Qureshi's serve in each set was all they needed to move into their fifth US Open doubles final with a routine 6-3 6-4 win.
"We played great today and are so excited to be in another US Open final," said Mike. "We usually don't sleep well before big matches, but we're going to go out there tomorrow and give it hell."
The Bryan brothers have won the US Open three times, in 2005, 2008 and 2010, while also reaching the finals in 2003.
In addition, Mike won the US Open mixed title in 2002 (with Lisa Raymond) while Bob has won it four times in 2003 (with Katarina Srebotnik), 2004 (with Vera Zvonareva), 2006 (with Martina Navratilova) and 2010 (with Liezel Huber).
"Radek is a great returner and Leander has some of the quickest hands on tour," said Bob. "We've played Leander dozens of times in big matches all over the world, so we know what to expect at this point. Every match we played against them this year has been close, so it's just going to be who plays better on the day," he added.
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