Paes-Bhupathi in Chennai Open semi-finals

Paes-Bhupathi in Chennai Open semi-finals
Indian duo Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi on Friday advanced to the semi-finals of the Aircel Chennai Open beating the German-American combo of Philip Marx and Ken Skupsky 6-4 7-6 (3).

Paes and Bhupathi will meet the Croatian pair of Marin Cilic and Ivan Dodig in their last-four clash after the Croats saw off Thailand's Sanchai and Sonchat Ratiwatana on Thursday.

Favourites Paes and Bhupathi were stretched to second set tie-break by Marx and Skupsky, who came back strongly after losing the first. The four-time winners, playing together at this venue after a gap of eight years, went on to become world number one after clinching their maiden title here in 1997.

Paes, in particular, was involved in a thrilling rally from near the net with Marx in the first game of the second set, before a Bhupathi backhand volley broke their opponents.

In a rapid first set that lasted just 34 minutes, Paes and Bhupathi broke Marx's service game at 2-all as the left-handed Skupsky skied a backhand return that Bhupathi smashed from the baseline.

Bhupathi starred in giving the Indian pair a 5-3 lead in the eighth, after he fended off successive returns from Marx near the net and placed a third return beyond the reach of Skupsky at the far end of the court.

The German-American duo was charged up in the second set, forcing Paes to send numerous returns wide. At one stage, Marx and Skupsky were 5-4 up in the second and were in a position to serve for the set, but Paes and Bhupathi brought in their experience to neutralise the score at 5-all and took the game to tie-break.

In the tie-break, the fight was even till point five when Bhupathi netted a return to make it 2-3 and then rallied to lead 5-3. After Paes won the next point, Bhupathi scored the winning point with a crisp forehand volley which Marx failed to return.