BARCLAYS ATP WORLD TOUR FINALS 2012
Paes/Stepanek Remain Unbeaten, Leave Bryans Waiting
by James Buddell|
Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek completed Group A with a 3-0 record at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals on Saturday after they beat Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan for the third time in seven meetings this year.
Third seeds Paes and Stepanek held their nerve to beat the top seeds and three-time former champions 6-4, 6-7(6), 10-7 in one hour and 45 minutes.
"We focus on our side of the net and we keep having fun," said Paes. "Playing with Radek, I've learned so much. It's fun to share things and try new things as a team. I was really, really impressed with the way he volleyed today, and he moved really well."
"We had two early breaks in the beginning," said Stepanek. "In the second set we had our chances, but they served really well on those occasions. Then we lost the tie-break in the second set, unluckily. We had nothing to lose; we kept concentrating on our serves and waiting for our opportunities, which came, and we deserved to win today."
DEUCE Flashback: Quick Steps To The Top (June 2012)
"I think we have to focus on our half of the court," said Stepanek, looking ahead to the semi-finals. "We've had three matches, which we've won, so we'll go into that match with the confidence we're building every match here. We're going to enjoy it the same way that we did until now. We will not change any inch of our game."
Paes and Stepanek broke both Mike Bryan and Bob Bryan to 30 in the third and fifth games, respectively, to take a 4-1 lead. Stepanek then wobbled, hitting a double fault to lose his service game, but calmly closed out to 15 with a wonderful backhand volley that angled away from Bob Bryan. The shot clinched the 36 minute set.
There were no service breaks in the second set, although the American twins came through sudden death deuces at 1-1 and 2-2. The Bryans took a 4-2 lead in the tie-break, but were powerless as Paes and Stepanek won three of the next four points. At 5-5, Paes hit a high volley winner for set point opportunity, but Bob Bryan saved it with a smash winner. A clever low return by Mike Bryan at 7-6, enabled Bob Bryan to cross and volley into space to end the 53-minute set.
In a 16-minute Match tie-break, Paes and Stepanek took a 6-4 lead and maintained the two-point cushion. At 9-7, Mike Bryan returned into the net.
Paes and Stepanek had already qualified for the semi-finals after victories over Qureshi and Rojer on Tuesday and Granollers and Lopez on Thursday. Paes is a four-time runner-up in 1997, 1999-2000 (w/Bhupathi) and 2005 (w/Zimonjic). Paes and Stepanek are now 33-9 on the season.
The Bryans won the season-ending championships in 2003-04 and 2009. The eight-year year-end World No. 1 doubles team have a 26-15 event record and end the year with a 60-13 mark.