Bopanna-Middelkoop lose in French Open semis

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India’s Rohan Bopanna and his Dutch partner Matwe Middelkoop saved two match points but their dream run at the French Open ended with a semifinal defeat to Marcelo Arevalo and Jean-Julien Rojer on Thursday.

Bopanna and Middelkoop, seeded 16th, lost 6-4, 3-6, 6-7 (8-10) to the 12th seeded pair from El Salvador and the Netherlands in the men’s doubles match that lasted two hours and seven minutes.

Rojer’s first serve accuracy was a huge factor in the outcome of the match. While serving for the opening set, Middelkoop was down by two break points but saved both to make it deuce. The Dutch player then fired an ace to get to advantage and Bopanna sealed the set with a backhand volley winner.

Bopanna and Middelkoop were down a break again in the second game of the second set as forehand to the net at 30-all, but he served big to pocket the game. The Indian’s second serve was in focus as the opponents had a brear point opportunity in the sixth game but Bopanna managed to hold serve. He sealed that game with a stunning cross-court forehand winner that passed Rojer, who was standing in the middle of the court.

The Indo-Dutch pair had a chance to break in the very next game when Bopanna found a service return winner off Rojer, but their opponents saved it. The 12th seeds, though, did not miss the crucial chance in the eight game as they broke Middelkoop for a 5-3 lead. Arevalo served out the set at love to force a decider.

There was no break of serve in the deciding set and Super tie-breaker was required to decide the winner. Bopanna and Middelkoop fell behind 2-5 with the Indian making three errors — first an overhead smash, a forehand return error and then a backhand return.

Bopanna and Middelkoop logged four straight points from 2-7 to make it a close affair and even saved two match points but Arevalo converted the third.

With this defeat, India’s challenge ended at the clay court major. Bopanna was bidding to become the first Indian in nine years to play in a Grand Slam men’s doubles final since Leander Paes’ 2013 US Open triumph. The first and last time Bopanna featured in a Grand Slam final was in 2010 with Pakistani partner Aisam-ul-haq Quereshi, where they lost to Bob and Mike Bryan.

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