Rio 2016 | Mirza-Bopanna lose bronze-medal match

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© Twitter - ITF Olympic Tennis

Rio 2016 | Mirza-Bopanna lose bronze-medal match

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SportsCafe Desk

08/14/2016

It was another day of unfulfilled expectations as Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna tamely surrendered their bronze-medal match against Radek Stepanek and Lucie Hradecka. Sania Mirza looked completely out of sorts as the duo lost 1-6, 5-7 to the Czech pair as India's tennis campaign ended at Rio.

After losing a heart-breaking semi-final on Saturday night, Indian duo Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna went into the bronze medal match against Radek Stepanek and Lucie Hradecká of Czech Republic hoping to clinch the first medal for the country at Rio Olympics. Hopes were sky high and rightly so, but it all went up in smokes within few minutes into the encounter.

Stepanek started the match with his powerful serve, and Mirza’s weakness against it was visible from the first point. Although Bopanna played well at the net to make it 30-40 in the opening game, Stepanek held on to make it 1-0 for the Czechs. Bopanna’s serve was India’s big plus point throughout the tournament, but it faltered on the night as Stepanek came up with some brilliant net play to make it an early break point for the Indian duo.  A winner down the middle from Stepanek in the next point gave them a 2-0 lead as the Indians were left watching the ball.

It was a disappointing start, but it quickly became an embarrassment. Hradecká held her serve in the next game, but once again Mirza’s serve let India down. Stepanek’s ferocious smashes found no return from the Indian side, and the Czech duo broke India once again to take a 4-0 lead. Stepanek then did what he does best and went into a 5-0 lead. Bopanna then served to take a solitary point for India, before the Czech took the first set 6-1.

The misery looked set to continue on to the second set. On Bopanna's serve, India were soon staring at a break, and Bopanna sliced one long, and India were down 0-1 right at the start.

But they came back in remarkable fashion soon. At 30-30, Stepanek provided some much-needed help with a double fault, and India had break point here, and Bopanna made a brilliant inside-out forehand to close it out and draw par at 1-1. India made it 2-1 soon after Sania started with an ace on her second serve! At 40-30, and Bopanna made a reflex and very very lucky return to give India a 2-1 lead.

India again broke the Czech to make it 3-1. Hradecka double faulted to give India a 0-30 lead., and India were soon looking at winning a break point again. In the best point of the match, Sania and Hradecka exchanged from the baselines for a while, before Stepanek intervened with what looked like a winner. But Sania managed to reach just in time and pulled out a stunning return to win it. India were up 3-1.

But then they squandered the advantage on Bopanna's serve in the very next game as India were broken again. After both teams held serve, India had a chance at 4-3. At 30-30, Hradecka double-faulted to give India a break point, but Bopanna missed it. And, the chance was gone.

After another round of games saved by both, Sania Mirza once again messed up at the most important moment. She committed two double faults as India lost the game to go down 5-6.

With Hradecka on serve, India had a chance, but it never materialized. At 40-15, Sania Mirza missed her service return sending it into the net, and India had lost the bronze-medal match-off. The Czech pair had won 6-1, 7-5 in commanding fashion to put paid to India's medal hopes.

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