The Indian stars fought rain delays and tough opponents to win their matches at the 2017 Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati, Ohio on Thursday. Fourth seeds Sania Mirza and Peng Shuai got the better of the unseeded Romanian combine of Irina-Camelia Begu and Raluca Olaru, 6-3, 6(1)-7, 10-3 to advance to the women’s doubles semi-finals.
In men’s doubles, the gutsy seventh seeds Rohan Bopanna and Ivan Dodig edged Juan Sebastian Cabal and Fabio Fognini, 5-7, 7-5, 10-8 to get their campaign off to a winning start.
Mirza and Peng had 73% of their first serves in. But their break point conversion was poor. Out of the 11 opportunities they got, they could convert only 3.
The Indo-Chinese duo was comfortably cruising at 5-1 with two breaks of serve as the Romanians struggled for large parts of the first set. However, the latter persisted and managed to save as many as five set points to break back and reduce the deficit to 3-5.
After pocketing the opener, Mirza and Peng looked unstoppable, building a 3-1 lead early on in the second. But a sloppy service game put paid to all hopes of Mirza and Peng finishing quickly.
The Romanians broke back to lead 5-4 before rain halted play. On resumption, they played a smooth, one-sided tie-break to force a decider where the fourth seeds grabbed the win in 1 hour 40 minutes.
The two former World No. 1s joined forces at the beginning of the US Open Series. Last week they were compelled to give a walkover after reaching the quarter-finals at the Rogers Cup as the Chinese hurt her knee.
Mirza and Peng’s semi-final opponents have not been decided yet. They will take on the winner of the quarter-final between Monica Niculescu/Su-Wei Hsieh and Lyudmila Kichenok/Lesia Tsurenko.
Bopanna and Dodig, meanwhile, continue their good form from last week where they reached the final of the Montreal Masters. They produced seven aces and had 63% of their first serves in.
The break point conversion is one area where a lot of improvement is required as the Indo-Croatian pair secured just a solitary break out of nine chances.
They have an uphill task in the quarter-finals where they face the second seeds and reigning Wimbledon champions Marcelo Melo and Lukasz Kubot.