Melbourne, Jan 27 (PTI) Reunited Indian tennis veteransLeander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi today earned a chance tocomplete their career Grand Slam by reaching the AustralianOpen men''s doubles final here.
They had re-joined forces at the start of the season withan aim to add that elusive Australian Open trophy to theirrespective Grand Slam cabinets and after beating Max Mirnyiand Daniel Nestor 7-6 (5), 4-6, 6-3 in the semifinals they areclose to realising their dream.
The Indian-Express, as they are known, will clash withAmerica''s two-time defending champions Mike and Bob Bryan, whosteamrolled the unseeded duo of Eric Butorac and Jean-JulienRojer 6-3, 6-2 in 54 minutes in the other semifinal today.
The Bryan brothers are unbeaten at Melbourne Park intheir last 17 outings.
Paes and Bhupathi last played together at a Grand Slam atthe Australian Open in 2002 when they reached the secondround.
They came into season-opening Grand Slam in a good nickas they had clinched the Chennai Open at home.
Paes has won 12 Grand Slam titles and Bhupathi 11 intheir respective careers but they have never won theAustralian Open men''s doubles trophy.
Interestingly, Bhupathi has not won a men''s doubles GrandSlam title since the 2002 US Open win with Mirnyi.
Paes and Bhupathi have won three of the four Majors, buthave twice come short of winning the Australian Open title.
They were runners-up together in 1999 and while Paesreached the final in 2006 with Martin Damm, Bhupathi did it in2009 with Mark Knowles.
The Bryans have a 9-8 record in major finals, whileBhupathi and Paes share a 3-2 mark.
In the semifinal today, Lee-Hesh had to work hard againstMirnyi and Nestor as both the pairs fought tooth and nailbefore the Indians prevailed.
There was hardly anything to separate the two teams asthey broke each other twice in the opening set, which wasdecided through a tie-break in the favour of the Indians.
Paes and Bhupathi had their chances to clinch the issuein straight sets but squandered two breakpoints and droppedtheir own serve once to allow their rivals to take the matchto the third set.
They did not repeat the mistake in the deciding set andconverted the first available chance to open up lead and endon the right side of the result after two hours and 20minutes.