Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna’s disappointment of semi-final loss against Venus Williams and Rajeev Ram carried into the bronze medal match against Radek Stepanek and Lucie Hradecka of Czech Republic with the Indian pairing bowing out tamely in just over an hour by 1-6, 5-7. The loss means India’s medal-less run at Rio continued with bronze medal also out of hopes.
As it happened:
2148 hrs IST: Mirza’s forehand is into the net and it is delight for the Czechs. Win 6-1, 7-5
2147 hrs IST: High return by Mirza and Stepanek moves across to volley into Bopanna’s body for a winner. 30-15
2147 hrs IST: Double fault by Hradecka and it is 15-15. The double fault stat is staggering: 6 for India and 4 for Czechs
2146 hrs IST: Hradecka with the task of closing out the match. Starts with a good serve into the body and Stepanek puts away the volley
2144 hrs IST: Stepanek’s volley hits the net, Bopanna scampers to get to it but can’t help but send it long. Break. Czech Republic to serve for the match now at 6-5
2144 hrs IST: Hradecka with a wild shot and it goes wayyy long. Another break point left though
2143 hrs IST: Little bit of luck of the net but Stepanek sends shot long
2143 hrs IST: Pressure on India. Double fault and three break points for the Czechs after Stepanek had volley had his way through the Indian defence
2141 hrs IST: Comfortable volley and hold for Stepanek. 5-5
2139 hrs IST: Stepanek to serve with new balls. Mirza starts with a huge forehand on the serve but that is her undoing too as it goes long. 15-0
2138 hrs IST: Bopanna with the putaway and India lead 5-4 in the second set. Pressure on Czechs?
2135 hrs IST: Exchange side-to-side before Bopanna shanks forehand into the net and it is 4-4
2135 hrs IST: Body serve and Sania can’t help but send a poor reply which Stepanek expectedly dispatches
2134 hrs IST: Bopanna with poor response on the break point and Stepanek puts away. Deuce
2134 hrs IST: Double fault and Hradecka is upset with herself – almost slams the racket
2133 hrs IST: Lucky for India there. Mirza moved at the net but Hradecka tried to go down the line. Sends it long though
2133 hrs IST: Hradecka withstands the fierce Mirza forehand but keeps herself in it and in return forces Mirza to make an error on the backhand. Game point at 40-30
2132 hrs IST: Good deep serve by Hradecka and Bopanna mishit is into the net. 30-30
2131 hrs IST: Bopanna with good net play and easy putaway at the net. 15-30. Opening for another break?
2131 hrs IST: Bopanna with a brilliant backhand winner. Flashes past Stepanek at the net
2128 hrs IST: Sania Mirza holds serve and India lead 4-3 in the second set – on serve
2126 hrs IST: Bopanna sends serve long on the backhand and all even now at 3-3
2125 hrs IST: Sweet hands at the net by Stepanek – first to shift Bopanna to the left and then sending a drop shot into vacant side of the court
2125 hrs IST: Stepanek serving and effective as ever. Mirza with an outstretched volley and the Czechs up 30-0
2122 hrs IST: Three break points for Czech Republic and Mirza sends volley wide to bring it back on serve. 2-3
2120 hrs IST: Sania with gorgeous forehands and last with cross court winner. BREAK! 3-1. Mirza using her booming forehand to good effect and pushing Hradecka side to side and further back. Stepanek holds one volley but the point is closed with lovely flick of the wrist and a cross court winner gives India the lead
2119 hrs IST: Two break points for India. One saved with serve out wide and then put away by Stepanek at the net
2119 hrs IST: Wild forehand by Mirza and it goes wide. 15-30
2118 hrs IST: Double fault. Opening this with score 0-30
2118 hrs IST: Bopanna smartly moves at the net to volley straight at Stepanek and the experienced Czech can’t return
2116 hrs IST: Bopanna with an awkward volley and Mirza holds serve. 2-1 to India
2110 hrs IST: Bopanna climbs on to the slow serve and rips a massive forehand cross court winner. BREAK! 1-1 now
2108 hrs IST: And Bopanna is broken in the very first game. 1-0 to the Czechs
2107 hrs IST: Bopanna opens proceedings in the second set. India need a hold and forget about the first
2103 hrs IST: Hradecka gets the luck of the net and Bopanna can’t control volley. Czech Republic win first set 6-1
2101 hrs IST: Ace by Bopanna down the side and game point India. Good serve and volley. Hold from 15-40 down and India are on board
2100 hrs IST: Break point Czech Republic. Stepanek sends forehand long. Deuce.
2057 hrs IST: Stepanek holds serve and India face prospect of being bageled
2053 hrs IST: Mirza is broken to add to India’s woes. Czech Republic now lead 4-0
2048 hrs IST: Hradecka holds serve eventually to make it 3-0.
2045 hrs IST: Bopanna with a superb backhand cross court winner to bring it to deuce from 40-0.
2043 hrs IST: Great strokes by Stepanek and sends forehand down the middle for winner. Break. 2-0
2042 hrs IST: Bopanna to serve for India first. Error by Sania at the net and break point
2040 hrs IST: Stepanek with a glorious drop shot to hold serve. 1-0
2039 hrs IST: Lovely forehand by Mirza at Hradecka and she can just get her racket to it. Bopanna puts it away at the net to make it 40-30
2038 hrs IST: Stepanek starts proceedings in the match.
2030 hrs IST: The players are on court. Rohan Bopanna and Sania Mirza are once again in all white while Czech Republic in their national colours of blue and red.
India’s mixed double pair of Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna failed to advance to the final after losing their semi-final match at the Rio 2016 Olympics on Saturday.
The Indian pair lost to USA’s Venus Williams and Rajeev Ram 6-2 2-6 3-10 in the semi-finals and failed to reach the final, which could have been a first for India in tennis. They will now play the bronze medal play-off on Sunday.
No Indian athlete could return with a medal in the first week of the Games and the trend continued on the eighth day. The biggest hopes were from the shooters who disappointed heavily and even though the archers impresses, no one could reach the semi-finals of their respective event.
Sania and Bopanna dominated the match in the first set and got a crucial break in the third game only. They built upon it with a hold and later broke Venus again to lead 5-2. They finished the set with a hold.
Bopanna was the leader for India in the first set with some big serves and producing some mesmerising trick shots at the net. Sania gave him good support with her strong forehand.
The second set was not as easy as the Indians would have liked as Venus and Ram made a comeback. Venus in particular unleashed some of her best shots to rattle the Indian pair. The big occasion took the Indians’ mind as Sania lost her spark from the first set.
The big momentum shift in the match unsettled the Indians and even Bopanna could not get his big serves right. Two breaks in the set gave Venus-Ram the set and it tied the match 1-1.
The super tie-break turned out to be another disaster for India as the USA pair took a 6-3 lead and did not let the Indian pair find a holding. Sania-Bopanna could not score any other point and when Sania hit it out, India lost it 10-3.
Venus jumped in the air to celebrated while Ram stood at the court in disbelief. Ram was not part of the USA Olympics team two weeks before the Games.
Sania and Bopanna can now hope for a better performance in the bronze medal play-off and give India its first medal in the Rio Games.
After suffering a heart-breaking loss in the mixed doubles semifinals, Sania Mirza says it is a challenge to recover mentally from such a defeat but vowed to come back strong for the bronze medal match here.
The Indians had a one-set lead but Venus Williams stepped up brilliantly with her partner Rajeev Ram to win the second set and clinch the issue 2-6 6-2 10-3 in the super tiebreaker.
A four-time Olympic gold medalist Venus will now aim for a fifth and first in mixed doubles.
“We have to try and recover as quick as possible, mentally and physically. Probably more mentally. We have to go back, try and get some sleep, put some food in our body and recover for tomorrow,” Sania said after the semifinal defeat.
“It’s difficult to see positives 10 minutes after you lose but that’s what we have to do as we don’t get too many chances. We are fortunate enough to have a shot at the medal. There were a few points here and there where the momentum shifted but we played well,” Sania said.
The world number one doubles player Sania said the challenge would be to overcome mental fatigue as she seeks her first Olympic medal from three appearances.
The US pair broke Sania’s service twice in the fourth and eighth game of the second set.
“Tennis is a game of inches and cms, anything can happen but we are coming back. She did step up well, that’s why she’s a champion. She’s able to do that under pressure. She started returning a lot better as opposed to the first set.
“We got the momentum back in our favour but then they went ahead in the super tie-break. It’s such a toss-up. We played great, if we look back but we have to get over it. We have a bit more time then our opponents who’re still playing on the court.”
Giving credit to Venus, Bopanna said, “Once they got that break (in the fourth game of second set), Venus started serving much better. The good thing is we still have a chance to come back and get a shot at the bronze medal. We have to recover well and come back by being positive. Our opponents will also be coming from a loss.”