Continuing their fine form in year's first slam, the Indo-Hungarian tennis pair of Rohan Bopanna and Timea Babos defeated Marcelo Demoliner and Martinez Sanchez on Friday to reach the mixed doubles final at Melbourne Park. Bopanna and Babos fought back after losing the second set to Demoliner from Brazil and Sanchez from Spain to beat them 7-5, 5-7, 10-6 in a gruelling three-set semifinal.
With this win, Bopanna has inched closer towards his second Grand Slam title by reaching the final of the mixed doubles event along with Hungarian partner Timea Babos. During the match, Bopanna served well while Babos stood out with her fierce returns to torment the Demoliner-Sanchez pair.
Bopanna had won his maiden Grand Slam crown at the 2017 French Open, where he won with Canadian partner Gabriela Dabrowski.
Interestingly, Dabrowski will now be on the other side of the net when Bopanna will strive to win his maiden title at the Rod Laver Arena. For Babos, a mixed doubles title will mean a double delight as she has already won the women's doubles title.
Dabrowski has reached the final with Croatian Mate Pavic after beating Bruno Soares and Ekaterina Makarova 6-1 6-4 in the other semifinal. Bopanna is only fourth Indian to lay hands on a Major trophy after Mahesh Bhupathi, Leander Paes and Sania Mirza.
The French Open title and his performance at the Melbourne Park will surely make him a strong contender for the Arjuna award this year, having missed out in 2017.
In the men's doubles though, Bopanna did not go deep in the draw, losing in the third round with Edouard Roger- Vasselin. Martinez Sanchez served for the second set at 6-5 and had two set points but Babos returned extremely well to save both.
However, the left-hander succeeded in drawing the parity when Hungarian hit one wide. In the Super tie-breaker also, it was hard and flat return from Babos which earned the side a mini break at 2-3 as her double-handed backhand almost took the head of Demoliner at the net.
Bopanna found a good volley winner to make it 5-2 before two service holds from the Indian handed them a commanding 7-2 lead. From there onwards, it was not difficult to close the match in their favour.
(With PTI Inputs)