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Leander and Mahesh reach second round of Miami Masters

2013 Australian Open - Day 4

Three-time champion Leander Paes kept his incredible Sony Open streak alive, as he moved into the second round of the Miami Masters. The Indian legend won here in 2010 (with Lukas Dlouhy), 2011 (Mahesh Bhupathi) and with Radek Stepanek last year. Playing with Frenchman Michael Llodra in this year’s edition, Paes saved 8 of 9 break points to stave off a stiff challenge from the German duo of Christopher Kas and Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3, 7-5 in 71 minutes. Mahesh Bhupathi and Daniel Nestor defeated French duo Richard Gasquet and Edouard Roger-Vasselin  7-6(3), 6-3 in an hour and 20 minutes to advance to the second round.

The Indo-French duo enjoyed three break points in the second game, only to see them fritter away one by one. The set was flowing on an even keel when a sudden opportunity presented itself in the eighth game. This time though, Paes-Llodra made haste to ensure they seal the break and serve for the first set. They held to love to take the first set in just 27 minutes.

The second set proved to be a slightly tougher ride – the seventh-seeded pair saved three break points in the fourth game to stay even at 2-2, but the tide turned toward the Germans when they earned their first break of the match in the sixth game. But playing with a sense of immediacy, Leander and Llodra broke back immediately to nullify their opponent’s advantage.

The Germans had a set point at deuce in the tenth game, but the Indo-French pair stayed alert to the danger and saw off the threat with a soft pair of hands at the net. Just as it seemed like a tie-breaker wasn’t too far away, the eleventh game slipped to a deuce and Paes took advantage to earn the decisive break. The Germans hung by a thread in the next game, even as they forced three break points. But fortunately for Leander and Llodra, they failed to convert, allowing the 7th seeds to advance to the next round.

2013 Australian Open - Day 3

Bhupathi and Nestor were coming off a first round loss at Indian Wells. But the Indo-Canadian pair piled on the pressure constantly through the first set, and even though they failed to convert any of their five break opportunities, including two set points, they left no doubt about who was in control of the match. Eventually, the set slipped into a breaker. The French pair lost their first two services in the tie-breaker and never quite recovered from that early disadvantage, as Bhupathi and Nestor played with steady hands to clinch the tie-break 7-3.

Having crushed their opponents’ spirits, Bhupathi-Nestor found the going easier in the second set as they broke in the third game to press home their growing influence on the contest. Gasquet and Roger-Vasselin had two opportunities to break back immediately, but squandered both chances to let their opponents consolidate the break. The match ended on another break when the French pair lost serve again in the ninth game. The third seeded pair will take on Nicolas Almagro and Oliver Marach in the second round. Rohan Bopanna and Rajeev Ram will take on Eric Butorac and Paul Hanley in the first round, around 1930 hrs (IST) on Saturday.

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