The fourth-seeded Indian pair of Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna lost their semi-final match against the American combine of Venus Williams and Rajeev Ram today, 6-2, 2-6, 3-10. It was a case of so near yet so far for the fourth-seeded Indian team, who lost their way mid-way through the match almost at the same time that Venus found her best form.
Performing consistently well in the first set, Mirza and Bopanna looked as though they could take a straight sets win as they were all over Venus and Ram. But a resurgence of energy by the Americans meant that the Indians had to dig deep; some good volleying and brilliant shot placement by former World No. 1 Venus and doubles specialist Ram put pressure on the Indians, and the end they succumbed to it.
Ram and Williams will now likely play Czech mixed doubles pair Lucie Hradecka and Radek Stepanek in the finals – both players have two Grand Slam doubles titles to their name and are formidable in that category. Hradecka and Stepanek are due to take on Jack Sock and Bethanie Mattek-Sands of the United States of America in the other mixed doubles semi-final, with the Czech pair the firm favourites to win.
The Indian combine looked to be in strong form in the first set, and an early break of the Americans’ serve meant that Sania and Bopanna took an early march on their rivals. In almost volleyball-esque coordination, the two Indians assailed their competitors and eventually took a double break of serve.
Many believed Venus had been flagging on energy in the first set, but the 36-year-old put paid to that talk with a brilliant comeback in the second. With precise shot placement today from both sides, Venus and Ram fought back hard in the second set, countering some superbly angled hitting from Bopanna.
The rallies got progressively longer as the match went on tonight, and the Indian pair began to buckle under the pressure of some fierce backhands off the racquet of Rajeev Ram, who found his groove during the match.
Team USA built on their break in the second set as India began to give away points cheaply, which eventually gave Team USA the set 6-2, the exact same scoreline by which the Indians had won the first set only a while earlier.
The Americans then went down an early break to give the Indians a 3-1 lead in the super-tiebreaker. But that was the last point Sania and Bopanna would win, as a combination of their errors and the Americans’ winners saw Venus and Ram win 9 consecutive points. Eventually, team USA took the super tiebreak 10-3 to stay in with a gold medal chance, while Sania and Bopanna were left looking at the prospect of a bronze medal playoff tomorrow.