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21 April 2024

Bhupathi-Llodra win Dubai Tennis doubles title

By Ajanta Paul

The unseeded Mahesh Bhupathi and Michael Llodra pairing for the first time won the doubles title of Dubai Duty Free Tennis CHampiionship.

In a fiercely contested match they defeated third seeded Robert Lindstedt and Nenand Zimonjic, 7-6 (6) 7-6 (6) here on Saturday.

It was Bhupathi's fifth title with five different partners in Dubai and Frenchman Llodra's first.

The first set saw Lindstedt-Zimonjic break Bhupathi's serve in the 4th game. Bhupathi-Llodra were down 2-5 but managed to break the 9th game in their favour. In the tie-break Bhupathi-Llodra were down 3-6 but some big shots from Llodra saw them through.

Bhupathi said, "Yeah, lucky to win it, I think.  You know, I didn't play a good game at all and lost serve. I think we played a good game at 5-3 to break. They had their chances. Like Mike (Michael Llodra) said, he hit a great volley at 3-6 down in the breaker. They had a really good return, and he came up with a big shot. Again, it was the small points that counted today."

In the second set, Bhupathi saved two break points in the third game. Lindstedt and Zimonjic began to rush, causing errors close to the net, but they remained in touch.

The set went on to a tie-breaker. Bhupathi and Llodra recovered from a 1-3 deficit winning five straight points.

Talking about tie-breakers Llodra said, "You have to take point by point. It's always difficult, you know. I don't know how many points we play together today.  But, no, it was tight. So you have to be ready every time."

The pair will split $126,900 in prize money and earned 500 Emirates ATP Doubles Team Rankings points.

Bhupathi first won the Dubai title in 1998 with Leander Paes, then again in 2004 with Fabrice Santoro, in 2008 with Mark Knowles and last year with compatriot Rohan Bopanna.