London: The Indian challenge at the Wimbledon ended today with veteran Leander Paes and his Czech partner Radek Stepanek losing their men’s doubles semi-final against Canadian Vasek Pospisil and American Jack Sock in straight sets here today.
The unseeded US-Candian duo beat the fifth seeded pair 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 6-4 in two hours and 21 minutes to set up title date against top seeds Mike and Bob Bryan of the United States.
The Bryan brothers made short work of 12th seeded French pair of veteran Michael Llodra and Nicolas Mahut 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 6-2 in an hour and 46 minutes in the other last-four clash.
May be playing on three consecutive days took its toll on the 41-year-old Paes and his 35-year-old partner. The ageing pair found it difficult against a pair whose cumulative age was 46 compared to their 76.
Having won successive matches in five and four sets respectively, the Indo-Czech duo were not in their element.
Especially, young Sock, who was brilliant with his powerpacked groundstrokes, to which Paes and Stepanek had no answer.
However, Paes and Stepanek started on a positive note as they went up by a break in the first set only to lose the advantage as Pospisil and Sock took the set to the tie-breaker. The young duo were better on big points as they converted four of their eight break points.
In the second set, the all-important second break came in the eighth game when they broke Stepanek’s serve.
On the other hand, Paes-Stepanek got 10 break points but could convert only two. Whenever a service break loomed large on them, mainly Sock came up with a booming serve while on their opponent’s serve, it was Pospisil, who would hit those deep big forehand returns.
In the third set, they broke Paes-Stepanek rightaway and maintained the single break to close the match in the 10th game off Sock’s serve.