Indian duo defeated in doubles final
Indian duo Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna crashed to a 7-5, 3-6, 10/3 defeat against Spain's Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez in the doubles final at the ATP Tour Finals on Monday.
Bhupathi and Bopanna were bidding to win the season-ending event for the first time, but Granollers and Lopez held their nerve in a super tie-break to become the first Spaniards to take the doubles crown at Tour Finals since Juan Gisbert and Manuel Orantes in 1975.
The Indian fifth seeds, who won their first Masters 1000 doubles title in Paris earlier this month, had already enjoyed a significant success at the Tour Finals after beating compatriot and old rival Leander Paes, and his Czech partner Radek Stepanek, in a semifinal grudge match.
But they were unable to maintain their momentum against the Spanish sixth seeds, who had the better of a hard-fought encounter at London's O2 Arena.
It was an especially painful defeat for Bhupathi, who has now lost in the final of the Tour Finals on five occasions, with his previous defeats coming with Paes, before their acrimonious split, in 1997, 1999 and 2000 and in 2010 with Max Mirnyi.
"I was telling Rohan, Now I know how (Ivan) Lendl feels at Wimbledon, five times in the final but I haven't got the title here," Bhupathi said.
"But 15 days ago, we were fighting to make it here. If you told us we were going to win Paris and make the finals of the Tour Finals, we would take it.
"It's always tough playing Granollers and Lopez. They're not a conventional doubles team. They make it very, very difficult in more ways than one.
"We fought hard to stay in the match and got ourselves again into a tie-breaker. This time I think we just played a bad tiebreak. That sums it up."
Granollers and Lopez, playing in the Tour Finals for the first time, won the only previous meeting between the teams in the Rome semifinals in May and that result was to prove a good omen.
The Spaniards had already defeated top ranked American brothers Bob and Mike Bryan in the group stages and they continued their impressive run after taking control of a tight first set when they broke for a 6-5 lead.
Bhupathi and Bopanna made them sweat as they earned a break point in the next game, but the Spaniards were able to serve it out.
Both teams had chances to win the second set, but it was the Indian duo who made the decisive break for a 5-3 lead and then held their nerve to level at one set all.
That meant a super tie-break was needed to settle the match and the Spaniards took the initiative as they raced into a 4-0 lead.
Bhupathi and Bopanna had no answer to that early barrage and they were eventually beaten in one hour and 29 minutes.