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16.04.2018 15:57
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Rio -- Indias fourth-seeded pair of Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna took their first step towards an elusive Olympic medal with a 7-5, 6-4 win inside one hour and 13 minutes against the Australian duo of Samantha Stosur and John Peers.A big Indian contingent waited patiently for the mens doubles semi-final featuring Rafael Nadal to finish on court three before making their way into the premises. It was a small court but every seat was taken in the media enclosure. Among those watching was Leander Paes, who has won four mixed doubles slams over the last couple of years.Peers began the match serving strong and held his first two serves comfortably. With the balls not bouncing as much as the evening grew chillier, the Indians too held their serves quite easily. Stosur, the shortest player on court was a muscular presence, whipping groundstrokes and firing big serves in; she did not drop a point in her first two games.?The men were serving into a strong wind and the first eight games went unbroken. It was in the ninth game that the Indians made an incision, with Peers losing his serve. However, just like in the mens doubles match, Bopanna lost his serve while serving for the set on a backhand volley error by Sania.India, though, stayed focused and put Stosur under pressure right back. A third straight break gave them another opportunity to take the lead, and it was duly completed on Sanias serve.The second set began much like the first, with both teams holding serve. Bopanna faced a challenge, but Australia started to make more errors. At 2-2, Peers serve came under assault with Sania ripping a backhand that Stosur could not volley back. A double fault by Peers gave India the all-important break as yelps of Bahut acche (Very good) started to be heard from the Indians in the crowd.Sania was moving sharply now and creamed an overhead in the next game as Bopanna held serve again. The finish line was nearing, but India were not there yet.Peers avoided another break, but Bopanna was serving full strength now and finished the match off with three aces in his final game -- fittingly the last of them was on match point against Peers. It lasted just over 70 minutes and gave an Indian contingent thirsting for some success reason to cheer.The conditions are tough, especially because it is very windy. We are used to the heat but this is harder, Sania said after the match.?It is easier for the guys because they have the power. Windy is tough to play, especially when guys serve to you in the mixed it is very tough to connect on your returns. I return well normally but when its windy it takes away a big strength of mine. I was happy that I was able to connect at the crucial points and thats why we came out on top.Bopanna and Sania will next face Great Britains Andy Murray and Heather Watson in the quarterfinals.?In 2012, the Indian pair of Sania and Leander Paes had also made the quarterfinals, before going down to eventual champions Victoria Azarenka and Max Mirnyi of Belarus.I have been saying this from the very beginning how tough it is going to be to win every match here, Sania said. We play multiple grand slam winners in every match, no matter who we play either the girl or the guy has won slams.Heather is a great player, she has won a slam very recently at Wimbledon. Shes confident and we all know what a champion Andy is. We feel good to have won our first round but we obviously feel we can play better. Hopefully that will happen. 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