x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Doubles teams in spat at Australian Open tennis

Indian winning pair of Paes-Bhupathi in altercation with Spanish-speaking opponents as they under the skin of the losers by shouting "vamos" at them.

Rafael Nadal concentrates on a forehand against Bernard Tomic yesterday. Clive Brunskill / Getty Images
Rafael Nadal concentrates on a forehand against Bernard Tomic yesterday. Clive Brunskill / Getty Images

MELBOURNE // "Vamos!" shouted the Indian doubles player. His Spanish-speaking opponents were clearly not amused.

Tennis etiquette was put aside yesterday during a heated doubles match between Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi of India and Spain's Feliciano Lopez, who played with Juan Monaco of Argentina.

The No 3-seeded Indian pair won the second-round match 7-6, 6-4. Match officials stepped in to calm the players afterward, when the two teams approached the net, arguing and angrily gesticulating. The losing team then snubbed the Indians by not shaking hands with both.

Lopez later told reporters that Paes was "trying to provoke us all the time".

"At one point, we were a little bit tired of the style he was using on the court, and that's all that happened," Lopez said.

Lopez did not specify which point, but the Indians say he intentionally hit a serve aimed at Paes, who jumped out of the way to avoid being hit.

"There was one serve fired at Leander," Bhupathi said. "We're all professionals, I don't think he would have missed [the service box] by that much."

In their post-match news conference, the Indian pair were openly amused. Bhupathi blamed the tension on their opponents "not being in a happy place" because they were losing. And because it was a hot summer day.

"It's hot out there, we're trying to beat each other. A few unnecessary things were said," Bhupathi added, smiling. "The crowd loved it. We got into it."

"They probably were not happy that we used the word 'Vamos,'" Bhupathi conceded. "Small things like that added up. Kept adding to their frustration that we were playing good tennis."

"Vamos!" - the Spanish expression for "let's go!" - is commonly used by Spanish-speaking players and their fans.

"It's just one of the words I like to use," Paes said. "Nobody has a patent on it."

Meanwhile, Australia's 30-year wait for a female grand slam champion will go on after Sam Stosur, the French Open finalist, lost 7-6, 6-3 to No 25 seed Petra Kvitova.

"I would have dearly loved to go farther than I did," said the No 5-seeded Stosur, the first Australian woman to make it into the top five of the world rankings in a quarter of a century. "It's always disappointing to lose. Especially here."

Immediately after, the packed Rod Laver Arena watched as Bernard Tomic, the 18-year-old Australian wild card, put up a commendable fight but lost in straight sets to Rafael Nadal, the world No 1. Nadal moved a step closer to becoming the first man to hold all four major titles simultaneously since Rod Laver in 1969.

The Spaniard will now play 15th-seeded Croatian Marin Cilic, who beat John Isner in a marathon five-setter.

The top seed said afterwards: "Towards the end of the match I was going to the net a bit more because from the baseline I didn't have enough shots to destroy him."

Elsewhere in the men's tournament, Britain's Andy Murray was far too strong for Spain's Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, barely breaking sweat as he cruised to a 6-1, 6-1 6-2 victory in just one hour and 22 minutes.

In other women's action, Vera Zvonareva, the Russian second seed, squeezed past Lucie Safarova 6-3, 7-6, while No 3 seed Kim Clijsters was pushed by France's Alize Cornet before going through 7-6, 6-3.