London: Indian tennis pair Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna went down fighting to sixth seeds Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez of Spain in the finals of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals here.
Granollers and Lopez became the second Spanish team to win the season-ending championships late Monday when they defeated fifth-seeded Indians 7-5, 3-6, 10-3.
Granollers and Lopez, playing one-up and one-back to great effect, took a 2-1 lead in the first set, after Granollers hit three successive forehands at Bopanna, who hit a backhand volley into the net on the deciding point. However, Lopez was broken in the next game.
Serving for the set, Lopez faced sudden death deuce and break point, but Granollers intercepted a backhand volley to clinch the opener in 43 minutes. The Spaniards had won 23 of their 34 service points.
Midway through the second set, at 3-4, the Indians set up two break point chances.
Lopez centred play on Bhupathi, less flashier and powerful than Bopanna, to recoup one point, but on the deciding point Granollers committed a forehand error.
Bopanna then coolly closed out to 30 with the team’s fifth ace of the set, which lasted 35 minutes. Bhupathi and Bopanna had won 76 per cent of their first service points.
Clever inter-play and defence by Granollers and Lopez gave them a 4-0 lead in the match tie-break, which saw Bhupathi and Bopanna guilty of not putting away their volleys and rushing into their strokes.
At 9-3, with Lopez serving, Bhupathi put a forehand volley long, giving the Spanish team their biggest win.
“It’s always tough playing them,” Bhupathi was quoted as saying by the ATP website.
“They’re not a conventional doubles team. They make it very, very difficult in more ways than one, no matter who they play. We were expecting that.
“We fought hard to stay in the match. (We) got ourselves again into a match tie-break. This time I think we just played a bad tie-break. That sums it up.”
Bopanna, who will be getting married in 10 days, added, “They’re not just serve and volley players, traditional doubles players. They mix a lot. They stay back. They serve and stay back. They cross a lot. They hit different kinds of shots, which it’s very tough. You’re not sure whether they’re going to come in or cross.”
Bhupathi and Bopanna end their partnership with a 34-22 season record. Last week, they won their first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 trophy at the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris.
Bhupathi, who was making his 12th appearance, has now finished as runner-up on five occasions – in 1997, 1999-2000 with Leander Paes and with Max Mirnyi in 2010.
The Indian duo ends the 2012 season and their partnership with two titles — Dubai and the Paris Masters.
Bhupathi will partner Daniel Nestor in the next season while Bopanna will be playing with Rajeev Ram.
When looking back on their partnership, Bhupathi said: “There were times in the year where the pundits of Indian tennis threw us under the bus, said that ‘we’re not good enough’, said that, ‘these guys are jokers’, in a diplomatic way.
“But we believed in ourselves. We reached three ATP World Tour Masters 1000 finals, won one Masters 1000 title and finished runners up here.
“We’ve beaten all the top teams there are to beat. We came through with flying colours, which I think is credit to us at the end of the day.”
Bhupathi and Bopanna had beaten Leander Paes and his Czech partner Radek Stepanek in the semifinals.