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Bhupathi/Bopanna Qualify For SFs After Match Tie-break Win Over Defending Champions

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Bhupathi, Bopanna© AFP/Getty ImagesMahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna celebrate their semi-final qualification at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals on Friday.

Fifth seeds Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna have qualified for the semi-finals as the second-placed team in Group B at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.

The Indians improved to a 33-21 match record on the season after they defeated second seeds and defending champions Max Mirnyi and Daniel Nestor 7-6(5), 6-7(5), 10-5 in one hour and 54 minutes on Friday.

“In all three matches we have been playing great and had match points in our first match, so we could have won all three matches,” said Bopanna. “We feel we are playing great and are happy being in the semi-finals.”

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Eight break point opportunities came and went in the first set, which was decided on a tie-break. At 1-1, Nestor saved three from 15/40; at 1-2, Bopanna held his nerve at the net and on serve to recover from 30/40, while Bhupathi also saved two points from the same score at 3-4. Nestor and Mirnyi took a 4-1 lead in the tie-break, but the Indians worked their way back. Inspired by a Bhupathi lob winner at 3-5, they won the 46-minute set, having won 29 of their 42 service points.

Mirnyi saved a sudden death deuce point for 4-4, while Bhupathi recovered from 30/40 at 5-5. Bhupathi and Bopanna let slip a 4-1 lead in the tie-break, winning just one of the next seven points.

“When we are playing a team as good as Daniel and Max you have to bring the goods,” said Bhupathi. “We were down a few break points and came up with some big serves. Luckily we were able to keep the momentum with big serving through the match.”

In the Match tie-break, Bhupathi and Bopanna won six of seven points from 4-4 to finish the round robin stage with a 2-1 record. They served 19 aces in total and saved all seven break points they faced. It was the Indians second straight win over Nestor and Mirnyi and their third in five clashes this year.

“If you don’t play the big points well, it doesn’t turn in our favour,” said Bopanna. “We focused on the big points and break points really well.”

Bhupathi and Bopanna will be looking to end their partnership on a high. Last week’s BNP Paribas Masters champions are competing together for the first time at The O2 in London. Bhupathi is a four-time runner-up in 1997, 1999-2000, with Leander Paes, and in 2010 with Mirnyi.

Nestor and Mirnyi finish the season with a 42-18 match record, winning four titles from six finals. Nestor was competing at the season-ending championships  for the 14th time and Mirnyi for the ninth ocassion.

This season's Wimbledon champions, Jonathan Marray and Frederik Nielsen, have already guaranteed their semi-final berth from Group B.

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