Indian top-seeds into singles, doubles semis

Seven Indian players, including Sania Mirza and Leander Paes,

made it to the singles and doubles semifinals at the Commonwealth

Games tennis Thursday, but the two stars crashed out of the mixed

doubles after a shock loss to Scotland.

Top-seed Mirza beat New Zealand’s Marina Erakovic 6-2, 6-3 to

reach the women’s singles semifinals, while Somdev Devvarman,

seeded No. 1 in the men’s draw, beat Rubin Statham of New Zealand

6-3, 6-4 to advance.

Devvarman paired with Rohan Bopanna to beat Australians Matt

Ebden and Greg Jones 7-6 (5), 6-4 to move to semifinals. Paes and

Mahesh Bhupathi, the doubles top seeds, beat England’s James Ward

and Joshua Goodall 6-2, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (4) for a semifinal berth.

But the good news for the hosts was tempered by the biggest

upset of the tournament – Scotland’s Colin Fleming and Jocelyn Rae

defeated favorites Paes and Mirza 7-5, 6-4, in the mixed doubles,

stunning spectators at the packed center court at the R.K. Khanna

Tennis stadium.

Mirza and Paes were playing together for the first time since

the 2006 Doha Asian Games, where they won the gold medal.

In women’s doubles, the unseeded Indian pair of Nirupama Sanjeev

and Poojashree Venkatesh beat second-seeded English pair Sarah

Borewell and Anna Smith 7-5, 6-4 in the quarterfinals.

Devvarman’s 1 hour 42 minute singles match was marked by a

series of breaks by both players, giving anxious moments to a

partisan Indian crowd as it appeared that the local hope would be

stretched to the limit by the No. 6 seed.

Somdev needed 46 minutes to win the first set after dropping his

serve in the third game but recovering immediately to break his

opponent to equal the scores at 2-2.

He broke Statham again to go up 4-2 with a forehand winner. The

pair exchanged breaks again before Somdev held.

In the second set, Somdev missed three match points in the

seventh game while leading 5-1 and dropped his serve in the eighth.

He finally served out.

Statham made 19 unforced errors, two more than Somdev, but the

Indian was far superior in scoring winners, especially the forehand

— 11 against seven by his rival.

”I am happy to be in semis, I am happy with closing it down.

The courts are a bit slow, but I am really fit thanks to my

coaches,” Devvarman said after the match.

Mirza began her singles match against Erakovic by dropping her

serve in the first game. However, it took her only 66 minutes to

win the match, breaking Erakovic twice in both the sets.

”I am feeling good. I knew I had to be sharp. I didn’t want to

get her the lead as I knew how good she is. I had to keep my

concentration up. I am happy I could pick up,” she said.