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Paes wins, Sania-Bhupathi crash out of Wimbledon

London: Indian tennis stalwarts Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi, who were locked in a selection row for the London Olympics recently, saw their fortunes take different turns today with the former reaching the third round of the men`s doubles event while the latter crashed out of mixed doubles competition of the Wimbledon here.

The French Open champion pair of Bhupathi and Sania Mirza, who later joined the selection row by lashing out at the AITA for using her as a "bait" to pacify Paes, suffered a crushing 3-6 1-6 defeat to Australian P Hanley and A Kudryavtseva in a 50-minute mixed-doubles match at the All England Club here.

However, Paes — who confirmed his participation in the Olympics just yesterday — and his Czech partner Radek Stepanek notched up a 6-2 6-4 7-6 (5) victory over Isreali combination of Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram in a gruelling two hour and 20 minutes battle. Seeded fourth in the tournament, Paes and Stepanek rode on their batter serves and broke their rivals twice in the first set.

The Israeli pair started to get their bearings right in the second set but they failed to create opportunities even as Paes and Stepanek broke them once out of the five chances that came their way. In the third set, both the pairs broke each other once but in the end it was the Indo-Czech combination who had the last laugh. In contrast in mixed doubles event, the fifth seeded Indian duo of Bhupathi and Sania failed to match the game of their unseeded rivals and made an early exit.

The Australian-Russian duo sent down six aces and also broke the Indian pair four times out of the seven chances that came their way. In comparison, Sania and Bhupathi failed to create any break opportunity and also had three double faults and four unforced errors.

The Indians, who would not be playing together in next month`s London Olympics after the All India Tennis Association (AITA) paired Sania with Leander Paes in mixed doubles, were better than their rivals in their first serve but they failed miserably in the second serve in the opening set.

In the second set, Sania and Bhupathi looked lacklustre as Hanley and Kudryavtseva sent down four aces and pushed the Indians to commit unforced errors and sealed the match comfortably. The Indians were also broken thrice in the second set.

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