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Paes-Bhupathi duo wins title, becomes No. 1

TENNIS / Azarenka triumphs

— PHOTO: AFP

HAPPY DUO:Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes pose with the trophy after their win over Daniel Nestor and Max Mirnyi in the Sony Ericsson Open men's doubles final on Saturday.

Miami: Adding to the joy of India's cricket World Cup triumph, veteran tennis players Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi won their second title of the season by clinching the Sony Ericsson Open here to become No. 1 in the ATP World Tour doubles team rankings.

Third-seeded Bhupathi and Paes rallied to beat the second seeded Belarusian-Canadian pair of Max Mirnyi and Daniel Nestor 6-7(5), 6-2, 10-5.

Paes had, in fact won the title even last year with Lukas Dlouhy but for Bhupathi it was his first career title at Crandon Park.

Key to success

“The key (to us winning) was just fighting as a team. Like Leander said, we didn't play our best match of the week. All four of us were tentative in the beginning,” Bhupathi said.

The ‘Indian Express' was up 6-5 in the first set but let it slip by conceding a break and never had a lead in the tie-break.

“We had a chance to win that set but we didn't take it — threw away the breaker pretty much,” Bhupathi said.

Bhupathi and Paes found their rhythm in the second set and were also helped by a double fault by Nestor in the fourth game. That enabled the Indians to take a 3-1 lead and they never looked back after that.

“My level dropped after the first set. We didn't get enough balls in play and they served better as the match went on. Max played well, so I feel bad about that. But we played against a tough team today,” Nestor admitted.

The win takes the Indians ahead of World No. 1 Bob and Mike Bryan for first place in the ATP doubles team rankings and in the battle to qualify for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.

It is Paes and Bhupathi's second team title of the year, following the Chennai Open at the start of the season.

“It's still early for us. The season is broken down into four segments — this is just the first of them. If we're still No. 1 after the U.S. Open, then we'll start getting excited,” said Bhupathi.

Meanwhile, Victoria Azarenka defeated Maria Sharapova 6-1, 6-4 to win the WTA's prestigious Miami hardcourt crown for the second time.

Azarenka, the 21-year-old eighth seed from Belarus, took full advantage of Sharapova's struggles, as the former World No. 1 held serve just once and committed 43 unforced errors.

The results (finals): Women: Singles: Victoria Azarenka bt Maria Sharapova 6-1, 6-4.

Men: Doubles: Mahesh Bhupathi & Leander Paes bt Max Mirnyi & Daniel Nestor 6-7(5), 6-2, 10-5 (tiebreak) . — Agencies

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