ATP Rome: Herbert/Mahut battle into semifinals

Last on the NextGen Arena, Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut edged out Rohan Bopanna and Pablo Cuevas in a match tiebreaker 12-10 to progress into the semifinals.

ATP Rome: Herbert/Mahut battle into semifinals
Nicolas Mahut returns a shot with partner Pierre-Hugues Herbert looking on (Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Herbert/Mahut
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Bopanna/Cuevas

Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut defeated Rohan Bopanna and Pablo Cuevas 7-6(5), 6-7(2), 12-10 to reach the Internazionali BNL d'Italia semifinals where they will play Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan

French pair go one set ahead via tiebreaker

The match began with three of the four players on the court holding their own serve. With Cuevas serving, the French pair went up double break points. They had one break point saved but converted on their second chance to go 3-1 up. However, Bopanna/Cuevas immediately controlled the next game and earned triple break back points.

A poor serve from Herbert allowed Bopanna to easily return the ball back in court and break straight back before consolidating to 15 to draw level at 3-3. Just a couple of games later with scores at 4-4, the fourth seeds took the game to a deciding point but the Indian/Urugyian pair denied the French and held serve to avoid going down a break again, 4-5.

Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut celebrate winning a point (Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut celebrate winning a point (Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Both teams continued to hold serve and Bopanna/Cuevas saved a set point on a deciding point to send the set to a tiebreaker. In the first seven points, six of them went against the serve with the score at 3-4 in favour of Bopanna/Cuevas.

The French pairing held their next two serves along with Bopanna/Cuevas holding one of theirs. Level at 5-5 in the breaker, Mahut played an exquisite lob to bring up a set point, 6-5. The 35-year-old then got lucky with a volley as it bounced off the frame as he and Herbert clinched the set 7-6(5).  

Bopanna/Cuevas draw level

Having won the opening set, Herbert/Mahut started the second in the same vein. Two of the four players held their serve as the French took the third game to a deciding point then broke the unseeded pair. The fourth seeds looked strong throughout the game with good defensive skills and often looking to get on the front foot as they consolidated to take a 3-1 lead.

Despite infront, the Indian/Urugyian pairing looked strong to get back into the match and they dominated the sixth game, going on to grab three break points. The pair had one saved but made no mistakes and broke on their second chance holding in the very next game for a 4-3 lead as they put themselves back into contention in the set.

In a tightly contested quarterfinal match, both teams had settled quite comfortably which showed in the next couple of games as neither dropped serve or looked as if they were going to with the remaining five games headed in the same direction as the first, a tiebreaker.

The unseeded pair immediately took control of the tiebreaker by breaking the French duo in the third game for 1-2 and not looking back, winning four of the next five points as a setpoint arrived, 2-6. A good, solid first serve from Bopanna saw Mahut hit an unforced error with the unseeded team forcing a decider. 

Herbert/Mahut win the decider to book a place in a Masters semifinals for the first time this season

Bopanna/Cuevas started out by breaking the French duo's serve in the opening point and staying ahead for the next few points to take a 1-4 lead. The match tiebreaker remained on serve with the unseeded pairing of Bopanna/Cuevas keeping their lead and making Herbert/Mahut fight to get back in the match. Down 8-9, a poor Bopanna first serve played into the hands of the 26-year-old, who rifled home a backhand winner to get he and Mahut back on track at 9-9.

Nicolas Mahut charges down a ball with Pierre-Hugues Herbert watching on (Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Nicolas Mahut charges down a ball with Pierre-Hugues Herbert watching on (Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

The unseeded pair won their next point to edge out at 9-10 but the French were breathing down their necks. At 11-10, Herbert fired a return into the body of the Indian who could only net as the fourth seeds progressed in a tight night match at the Foro Italica.