With merciless sun beating down on their backs on Thursday, 5th seeded India-Czech Republic doubles pair of Leander Paes/Radek Stepanek won a tough quarterfinal encounter against 3rd seeded Daniel Nestor(Canada) and Nenad Zimonjic(Serbia). In the semifinal Paes/Stepanek will take on the Canadian/American pair of Vasek Pospisil and Jack Sock, who defeated the no.2 seed Austrian/Brazilian duo of Alexander Peya and Bruno Soares in the other quarterfinal on the same day. On Wednesday, June 2, USA’s famous Bryan Twins and top-seed, Mike and Bob, also reached the men’s doubles semifinal by beating the 9th seeded pair of Julian Knowle(Austria)/Marcelo Melo(Brazil) to clash with France’s 12th seeded pair of Michael Llorda/Nicholas Mahut.
India’s Leander Paes and Czech Republic’s Radek Stepanek played a hard-fought doubles quarterfinal on Thursday, against Canada’s Daniel Nestor and Serbia’s Nenad Zimonjic, in trying conditions at the No.1 court at Wimbledon. They were nearly outplayed in the first set and with the Canadian/Serbian duo dominating from the other end; it looked like a lost cause. But before the first set could take its complete course, a strange event halted the match for a while. Sweating heavily, the dehydrated Paes reached for his iced-water bottle on the backline, and just as he thought of quenching his thirst, his eyes fell on a spectator, who was about to pass out under the onslaught of the blazing sun. His partner, Stepanek was about to serve at 2-2 but Paes stopped him and also beckoned to his opponents. The onlooker, seated in the mid-tiered stands, was sliding awkwardly in his seat and probably needed help. Paes held up his hand, looked up at the chair umpire and asked to halt the proceeding for a while so that his partner was not distracted while serving. Then suddenly, the spectator fell in exhaustion and passed out. In an act of great humility, Paes ran down the length of the court and passed his own water bottle to someone seated nearby. The person passed the bottle to another spectator, seated next to the sick man. A couple of people helped the man drink some water and after a little while, the man came to his senses. For a change, there was a heart-warming round of applause, usually reserved for a point well scored. Another big applause followed a little later, when the man got to his feet and sank in his chair. The match continued thereafter.
Paes/Stepanek lost the first set since Nestor/ Zimonjic controlled the set on serves. Neither Paes nor Stepanek were able to make any response to the booming service of their third-seeded opponents. But the Indo-Czech pair got their chance, after the second set went to the tie-break. Paes, who had won the men’s doubles 15 years ago, combined well with his Czech partner and prevailed in the tie-break to level the set score 1-1. In the third set, Paes and Stepanek were able to control their game by some good serves and deft placements to swing the momentum in their favor. They won the third set 6-3 and played well once again in the fourth. The set went on serves for a while and when Paes/ Stepanek broke Nestor/ Zimonjic, Paes served out to take the match 3-6, 7-6, 6-3, 6-4. The Indo-Czech duo had also reached the semifinals last year but couldn’t progress further. This year, to take their place in the final, they will have to beat the Canadian/American duo of Vasek Pospisil and Jack Sock in the semifinal. On their part, Pospisil/Sock defeated the tournament’s no.2 seed Alexander Peya of Austria and Bruno Soares of Brazil 6-4, 3-6, 7-6, 6-4.
In two other men’s doubles quarterfinal matches, played on Wednesday, defending champion and top-seed Bob and Mike Bryan of USA were stretched to four sets by the 9th seeded pair of Julian Knowle of Austria and Marcelo Melo of Brazil. In part, the Bryan Brothers’ victory was similar to the one scored by Paes and Stepanek on Thursday. The Americans lost the first set and fought the second set on tie-break. Once they came through, they could control the game, which ended 3-6, 7-6 (8-6), 6-4, 6-4 in their favor. In the semifinal the Bryan Brothers play against the French pair of Michael Llorda and Nicolas Mahut. In an all France quarterfinal later on Wednesday, Llorda/Mahut overcame a challenge from their 4th seeded compatriots, Julien Benneteau and Edouard Roger-Vasselin before coming through in four sets 6-4, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4.
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