Rohan Bopanna and his Dutch partner Matwe Middelkoop lost to Middelkoop's compatriot Jean-Julien Rojer and El Salvador's Marcelo Arevalo in the men's doubles semifinal of the French Open on Thursday.
The 16th-seeded pair of Bopanna and Middelkoop went down 6-4, 3-6, 6-7 (8) to the 12th-seeded duo of Arevalo and Rojer in two hours 7 minutes on the Simonne-Mathieu court at Roland Garros in the French capital.
At 40 years nine months, Rojer became the oldest player in the Open Era to reach the men's doubles final at the clay Major but that record could have gone to the 42-year-old Bopanna who, along with 38-year-old Middelkoop, started the match in great fashion.
AS IT HAPPENED:
Bopanna and Middelkoop broke Rojer's serve in the third game of the first set and held on to their own to take the opening set 6-4.
The second set was fought very closely with break points rarely on offer despite quite a few deuce games. The Indo-Dutch pair failed to convert its only break point opportunity on Rojer's serve in the eighth game and paid for it as in the very next game, Arevalo and Rojer broke Middelkoop's serve to go ahead 5-3. Arevalo served strongly to close out the second set 6-3 and take the match to a deciding third set.
Nothing could separate the two pairs in the final set as they quickly ran through the games while holding their serve comfortably with no break points available. At 6-6, the match was to be decided by a 10-point super tiebreak.
The super tiebreak started with Bopanna missing a simple overhead volley to give the 12th seeds a mini-break. Rojer and Arevalo stretched their lead to 7-3 before Bopanna and Middelkoop, who had won their previous two matches in the super tiebreaks, reeled off three straight points to reduce the gap to 6-7. Rojer put in two powerful first serves - first leading to an easy put away volley at the net for Arevalo and the second drawing out a long backhand return from Bopanna.
The Indo-Dutch pair saved two match points but on the third, Arevalo's wide serve led to Middelkoop's backhand return flying off the court and sealing the victory for the 12th seeds.
With Bopanna's exit, India's campaign at this year's French Open is over.
The last Indian to win a men's doubles title at a Grand Slam is Leander Paes who lifted the trophy along with Czech Republic's Radek Stepanek at the 2013 US Open while the last Indian to win a Grand Slam title is Bopanna himself who, along with Canadian Gabriela Dabrowski, clinched the mixed doubles crown at the 2017 French Open.
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