So near, yet so far : Indian medal hopes delayed as Mirza-Bopanna lose semi-final

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So near, yet so far : Indian medal hopes delayed as Mirza-Bopanna lose semi-final

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SportsCafe Desk


India's medal hunt at Rio will have to wait longer after Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna lost their semi-final match against Venus Williams and Rajeev Ram of the USA. The Indians won the first set, but lost the second set and the tie-breaker but will be back for the bronze-medal match.

India got the break they needed very early in the first set. After both held their serves to 1-1, India created three break points on Williams' serve, and Rohan Bopanna hit a brilliant backhand return to take an early lead at 2-1. They made it 3-1 on Mirza's serve after Venus' terrible backhand on game point. After Bopanna served to take the next game, India got their second break to make it 4-1. At 5-2, India reached set point, and Rohan Bopanna's interruption of Williams' return at the net gave India the set at 6-2.

In the second set, India was broken on the fourth game after both teams had held serve on the first three games. India reached game point, but Sania Mirza chose the worst moment to double-fault, and it was back to deuce. And, inarguably, the best point of the match unfolded. First, Mirza and Ram engaged in a rally from the baseline, and sensing a chance, Mirza sent it down the line. But, it caught the net, and Ram was in time to return it, and on the next exchange, Mirza was unable to get her racket up in time for Ram's scorcher. It was suddenly advantage to USA, and they won it to go 3-1 up. That game changed the complexion of the match, and after both teams held service games to reach 5-2, it was Sania's service game again. The World No.1 just could not get her serve right when it mattered though, and India lost the second set 2-6.

In the tie-break, India took an early lead at 2-0, but soon were 3-3 after Rohan Bopanna double-faulted under pressure. It had begun to unravel and just would not stop. Another Bopanna error at the net, and USA were winning points on a trot, and again at 7-3, Bopanna missed the easiest of net smashes and crashed it into the net! It was 8-3, and USA completed the formality soon to end the match 2-6, 6-2, [10-3].

India's final hopes had evaporated after a brilliant first set, and Sania and Bopanna will now fight for the bronze medal.

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