Thursday, May 8, 2008

Mahesh Bhupathi knocked out of Rome Masters

Mahesh Bhupathi and Mark Knowles were sent packing by unseeded Spanish duo Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco in a second round doubles match at the Rome Masters on Wednesday night.

The fourth seeds lost 7-6(4), 4-6, 7-10 in an hour and 35 minutes, after clawing back from 4-7 down in the final match tiebreak.

Lopez and Verdasco won a point less than their opponents but were able to convert one of two break point opportunities. Bhupathi and Knowles had ten but couldn't capitalise on any.

There had been apprehensions that Bhupathi had not fully recovered from a groin strain he picked up during the Monte Carlo Masters final last month.

The injury also forced Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna to retire from their opening round encounter at last week's BMW Open in Munich, despite leading 6-2, 0-1.

But Bhupathi, who won the Rome Masters with Leander Paes in 1998 and with Max Mirnyi in 2004, didn't blame the injury for the defeat last night.

"I was feeling pretty good," the 33-year-old told the Indian Tennis Blog after the match.

Bhupathi and Knowles, who claimed back-to-back titles at Memphis and Dubai and were losing finalists at Miami and Monte Carlo this season, are currently placed second in the ATP Doubles Race.

Bhupathi returns to action at the Hamburg Masters next week.

Update: Leander Paes and Australia's Paul Hanley, who suffered a string of inexplicable first round losses this season, were beaten in their opening encounter at the Rome Masters on Thursday.

The eighth seeds lost to the Polish pair of Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski 6-4,3-6,6-10 in an hour and 18 minutes.

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