Rio de Janeiro: India’s hopes of their first medal at the Rio Olympics were dashed as Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna lost 1-6, 5-7 to Czechs Lucie Hradecka and Radek Stepanek in the tennis mixed doubles bronze medal match at the Rio Olympics here on Sunday.
The Indian pair went down in an hour and 11 minutes at the Olympic Tennis Centre’s Court 1.
The Indians were broken in their very first service game as the Czech pair utilised their first break point to take a 2-0 lead in the first set.
Lucie-Stepanek then consolidated their position, holding their serve, to improve to 3-0 in a hard-fought game.
The Indians were totally outplayed in the first set as they found it difficult to cope up with the Czech attack, getting broken twice to surrender it 1-6.
Stepanek, a former partner of men’s doubles partner of India’s Leander Paes, was in prime form at that stage. He used all his guile and experience to control the flow of the proceedings.
Lucie-Stepanek converted two of the five break points received to pocket the first set easily in 27 minutes.
Indians needed to sort out their flaws quickly as they match was swiftly drifting away from them.
But the start of their second set was hardly ideal, as they were broken for the third time in the match to trail 0-1.
But their response to the setback was promising, breaking back immediately to square it 1-1 and then went 3-1 ahead.
But they couldn’t sustain the advantage as Lucie-Stepanek fought back to 3-3. At 4-3, Sania-Bopanna had a chance to pull ahead but failed to utilise a break point as the deadlock stretched to 4-4.
Bopanna comfortably held his service game to keep pace at 5-5 as the set headed for a tight finish.
But it was Sania’s service game that was under pressure, facing three break points during the most crucial phase of the match.
The Indians saved two break points but was ultimately broken to concede a 5-6 lead. Lucie saved for the match and claimed the contest in the first match point itself.
Sania-Bopanna had lost the semi-final clash to Americans Venus Williams and Rajeev Ram 6-2, 2-6, 3-10 on Saturday.