Veteran Indian players Rohan Bopanna and Sania Mirza were knocked out of the men's and women's doubles events of the Australian Open respectively, after losing their first round matches, in Melbourne on Wednesday. Bopanna and his French partner Edouard Roger-Vasselin lost in three sets to wild card pair of Chirstopher Rungkat and Treat Huey. They began confidently but lost momentum mid-way to lose 6-3 6-7(2) 2-6 in one hour and 48 minutes.
Mirza and her Ukrainian partner Nadiia Kichenok, on the other hand, lost 4-6 6-7(5) to Slovenian team of Tamara Zidansek and Kaja Juvan in one hour and 37 minutes. Kichenok was off-colour as unforced errors kept flowing from her racquet throughout the contest. The two Indians are, however, still alive in the first Grand Slam of the season as they will compete in the mixed doubles. Bopanna has teamed up with Croatia's Darija Jurak Schreiber, while Mirza has paired up with American Rajeev Ram.
None of the four Indians, who competed in the singles Qualifiers, made it to the main draw.
Philippines' left-hander Huey's exceptional service games and net play was crucial in the outcome of the men's doubles match, while Indonesian Rungkat, who initially appeared as the weak link, gradually upped his game. Rungkat's hitting from the baseline improved remarkably as the match wore on. The Indo-French pair got the first break chance in the fourth game when Bopanna hit a crushing forehand winner past Huey at 15-30 on the serve of Rungkat, who could not put the ball across the net on the next point. That break positioned Bopanna to serve out the set in the ninth game and he did that with ease, at love, with his booming serves.
Rungkat and Huey came out all guns blazing in the opening game of the second set, attacking Bopanna's serve and earned two breakpoints with a flurry of winners but could convert none. Both the pairs held serves throughout the second set, which was decided by a tie-breaker. In the 11th game, though, Roger-Vasselin and Bopanna earned two break chances but their rivals saved both. It was a winner from Roger-Vasselin and a Rungkat forehand error that put the wild cards 15-40. The wild card pair reeled off six straight points in tie-breaker from 1-2 to level the match.
The momentum changed dramatically after that with Rungkat and Huey dominating the contest by breaking their rivals with ease. They raced to a 5-1 lead with a double break. The Indonesian then served out the match.