Miami Open: Bopanna-Ebden reach semifinals

The victory will help Bopanna, 44, to secure direct qualification for the Paris Olympics

FILE PHOTO: Rohan Bopanna (L) and Matthew Ebden (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Pramod Thomas

INDIAN tennis stalwart Rohan Bopanna and his Australian teammate Matthew Ebden advanced to their third men’s doubles semi-final this year, defeating Dutchman Sem Verbeek and Aussie John-Patrick Smith at the Miami Open.

The duo, who had won the Australian Open earlier this year, overcame several unforced errors in the first set to win the gruelling quarterfinal 3-6 7-6 (4) 10-7.

The victory for the 44-year-old Bopanna, currently ranked No. 2 in the world, will help him stay in the in top-10 in the ATP doubles ranking and ensure direct qualification for the Paris Olympics in July-August.

The cut-off date for rankings to be considered for direct Paris qualification is June 10.

The Bopanna-Ebden pair, seeded No.1, didn’t enjoy a dominant first and second-serve percentage but came up with breaks at crucial junctures in the second set to take the match into the tie-breaker before winning it and drawing level.

Bopanna, who won his maiden grand slam at the Australian Open this year, had attained a career-high world No. 1 ranking following the success but has slipped to second spot after a quarterfinal loss at the Dubai Championships and a round-of-32 exit at the Indian Wells Masters.

The Indo-Australian pair will meet the winners of the match between Marcel Granollers (Spain)/Horacio Zeballos (Argentina) and Lloyd Glasspool (UK)/Jean-Julien Rojer (Netherlands) in the last-four.

Bopanna and Ebden had also reached the semifinal of the Adelaide Open in January this year and made the title round before losing to Rajeev Ram (USA) and Joe Salisbury (UK).