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Paes-Vardhan pair goes out fighting from Olympics

London: India`s Leander Paes and his unheralded partner Vishnu Vardhan fought valiantly before bowing out of the Olympics men`s doubles tennis event, succumbing to a the wild card French pair in a three-set tussle at the Wimbledon here.

A day after the more fancied pair of Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna crashed out in the second round, Leander and Vishnu gave a better account of themselves before the strong duo of Jo Wilfred Tsonga and Michael Llodra pulled off a gruelling 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-4 victory in a match which lasted two hours and seven minutes Wednesday night.

With the exit of Paes and Vardhan, the Indian challenge in the men`s doubles event has come to an end. Only the mixed doubles duo of Paes and Sania Mirza remain in the fray. Their match was scheduled for Wednesday night but had to be postponed till Thursday because of the backlog owing to inclement weather in the past few days.

On Wednesday, the Indians played their hearts out but just did not have the firepower to overcome their French opponents who held their nerves in the crucial stages of the contest.

The two teams went neck-and-neck in the thrilling first set before the Frenchmen tilted the scale in their favour in the tie-breaker, winning it 7-3. The first set lasted 46 minutes.

The Indians regrouped well and bounced back by clinching the second set 6-4 to throw the match wide open again. But they paid the price for making a number of unforced errors in the crucial third set to allow the Frenchmen to move into the quarterfinals.

Paes and Vardhan were paired with each other after both Bhupathi and Bopanna refused to partner Paes which led to a selection controversy that marred the Indian tennis players` build-up to the Games.

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