CINCINNATI (Ohio), Aug 22 (IANS): India's Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes have won their second ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title of the season, defeating Frenchman Michael Llodra and Serb Nenad Zimonjic 7-6(4), 7-6(2) in a rip-roaring final at the Western & Southern Tennis Open here.
The third-seeded Indian pair, winners of the Masters 1000 in Miami, executed their plan far more efficiently than the flamboyant fourth-seeded Lodra and Zimonjic, back-to-back title winners at Washington and Montreal, on the Grandstand Court at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason Sunday.
Paes and Bhupathi, who reunited on the Tour this year after a nine-year separation, had knocked out top seeds and 11-time Grand Slam winners Bob and Mike Bryan 1-6, 7-6(2), 10-7 in the semifinals.
The Indians, the winners here in 2001, have a 25-8 win-loss record this year, having started the season winning the Chennai Open and losing the Australian Open final and then the Queen's.
The victory must be sweeter for Bhupathi who last year lost the final with Belarusian Max Mirnyi to the Bryan brothers.
Bhupathi said their focus is on the Olympic gold next year in London and playing together helps.
"We just felt like this is the right time," said Bhupathi, who played tennis at the University of Mississippi. "Our big goal is the Olympics next year. So playing together now really helps."
Bhupathi and Paes, runners-up at the year's first Grand Slam tournament Australian Open, won the hard-fought match in one hour and 41 minutes in front of wildly-cheering expats waving their national flag.