London: Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna clinched their place in the semi-finals of the ATP Tour Finals after winning their Group B shoot-out with second seeds Max Mirnyi and Daniel Nestor on Friday.
With Jonathan Marray and Freddie Nielsen already certain of making the semi-finals from Group B, this clash would decide who qualified in second place and the Indian duo produced a superb performance to win 7-6 (7/5), 6-7 (5/7), 10/5 at London’s O2 Arena.
The two teams had faced off four times this year, with two wins apiece, but Bhupathi and Bopanna won their last meeting in Shanghai and they had the edge again in the prestigious season-ending event.
Bhupahti and Bopanna made the perfect start as they took the first set in a tie-break, but an epic second set lasting 56 minutes went to Belarus’s Mirnyi and Canada’s Nestor after another tie-break.
That meant a super tie-break was required to settle the match and Bhupathi and Bopanna seized control, racing into a 9-4 lead before sealing the win on their second match point.
The Indian pair, seeded fifth, were making their first appearance together at the Tour Finals, although Bhupathi had qualified on 11 previous occasions with three different partners and finished as runner-up four times.
After winning the Paris Masters doubles crown last week, they will believe they are in good enough form to win Sunday’s semi-final — their opponent will be decided on Saturday — and possibly even the title itself.