Day Five of the Tata Open Maharashtra saw the doubles top-seed pairing of Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan advance to the Final as they beat the Italian-Croatian pairing of Simone Bolelli and Ivan Dodig 6-3, 3-6, 15-13 in a thrilling Semi-Final encounter held here at the Mhalunge-Balewadi Tennis Stadium on Friday.
The Indian pairing started the match by grabbing the opening game and keeping their serve intact while Bolelli-Dodig also did the same to make it 1-1. Sharan utilised his serve to good effect as he won the next game to put his team 2-1 ahead. Dodig served in the next game with his partner Bolelli providing good support at the net and winning their second game. Bopanna used his experience in the next game to win his service game while Simone Bolelli showed why his team reached the Semi-Finals as he made it 3-3.
It was Sharan who made it 4-3, but the eighth game was the one where the Croatian Dodig could not save double break points and gave an opening to the top-seeds as they led 5-3. In what turned out to be the last game of the first set, it was the 38-year-old Bopanna who ended up serving a double fault but recovered in time to save a break point, and then take the set 6-3.
The second set started with the Bolelli winning the first service game and giving his Croatian partner some much needed confidence after his serve got broken in the first set. The consequent two games saw both Bopanna and Dodig holding on to their serve but it was Sharan whose serve was broken in the fourth game which gave Bolelli-Dodig a 3-1 advantage. Bolelli held his serve to put more pressure on the Indians which was visible in the next game when Bopanna put a ball long when he should have scored a winner.
Eventually the Indian pair saved a break point to win the game as scoreboard read 4-2. Dodig did not repeat the mistakes of the first set and held his serve to make it 5-2 but Bopanna-Sharan saved a break point again to stay in the set as Sharan served to make it 5-3. The top-seeds then did save a set point off Bolelli’s but lost the deciding point of the set which meant the match went into the Super Tiebreak.
The final act of the match saw the top-seeds go 2-5 behind. But combining their experience and deft touches, Bopanna-Sharan pair levelled it at 5-5. With Bolelli-Dodig seeming to have run away with the match at 9-7 it was the Indians who saved two match points to keep their hopes alive.
The highlight of the Super Tiebreak was the back-hand winner by Bopanna to make it 9-9 and then backed it up with another winner to make it 10-9. With Sharan serving for the match, it was Bopanna who scuffed his return to give their opponents another opening at 10-10. Both the pairs had chances to finish the match but it was only at 13-13 that Dodig hit a long return which gave Sharan the chance to serve for the match and the 32-year-old held to advance to the finale by a 15-13 win in the Super Tiebreak.
“It was a tough situation for us when we were down two match points but we always try to not change too much and stick to our plans. It is important to have the consistency in our game and it worked today,” said a delighted Sharan after the hard fought win.
The Singles competition will also see two Semi-Finals to be played today as Ivo Karlovic takes on Steve Darcis while top-seed Kevin Anderson will play Defending Champion Gilles Simon in the last match of the penultimate day.