Kiwi Michael Venus' dream run at the Australian Open has come to an end.
Together with his Indian partner Yuki Bhambri, they lost 6-3 6-2 to the Grand Slam's fifth seeds Leander Paes, also from India, and the Czech Republic's Radek Stepanek.
This third round match was played in front of 5000 people in a packed Margaret Court Arena with many more people unable to get inside to watch it.
There weren't any signs of nerves on display from Venus and Bhambri as they took on players regarded as two of the greatest current exponents of doubles play.
However, it was that extra knowledge of the doubles game that made a big difference as Stepanek and Paes, knew all the right times when they should come up to the net, stay deep or go for a lob.
There was little to separate them early in the first set, but Bhambri was broken in the sixth game, double faulting on break point and was unfortunate that there was a big gust of wind on his second serve.
With Stepanek serving for the set three games later, he did face a break point but fended it off with a huge ace down the middle and soon after bagged the game.
Bhambri couldn't hold serve in the opening game of the second set with Paes showing exceptional skill at the net.
And the young Indian was broken one more time in the set and although Venus and Bhambri had two more break points, they couldn't take either of them.
"It was a great experience to be out there on that court," Venus said afterwards.
"The crowd was awesome, I really enjoyed it, I wish the result was different, but obviously they're great players and played well today.
"We had some chances, didn't quite take some of them, but it was a great experience."
Bhambri said he felt he and Venus were able to push the two veteran opponents.
"We prepared really well, we watched them play a bit and we expected them to come with their shots," he said.
"I am disappointed with the result, obviously they're great players and we stayed with them throughout the match and made it tough for them, but they showed why they're Grand Slam champions."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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