Toronto's Daniel Nestor and Belarusian partner Max Mirnyi were eliminated from the Australian Open men's doubles tournament Thursday, losing their semifinal 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 to India's Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic.
Nestor and Mirnyi, the second seeds, were looking for a second Grand Slam title after winning the French Open last spring six months after joining forces.
They had only lost one set en route to the Melbourne semifinals before running into the newly formed Paes-Stepanek combination.
The match lasted two hours 12 minutes, with Nestor and Mirnyi converting on three of seven break points chances and striking 40 winners but producing 13 unforced errors, compared to five by their opponents.
“We could have lost in the final, but we lost today,” Nestor said. “It's frustrating, but what can you do?”
Paes and Stepanek will play in Saturday's final against Americans Bob and Mike Bryan. The top-seeded American twins completed a comeback win over the seventh-seeded pair of Swede Robert Lindstedt and Horia Tecau of Romania 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-5).
Nestor and Mirnyi, who won a tournament in Brisbane earlier this month, got off to a quick start, sweeping the opening set in 32 minutes. But their form trailed off against Paes and Stepanek, both seasoned players.
Mirnyi was broken in the seventh game of the second set by Paes' winning lob. Three games later, Nestor and Mirnyi saved a set point with a return winner before losing the set on an error.
In the third set Paes and Stepanek broke Nestor in the third game and Mirnyi in the fifth to take 4-1 lead. Mirnyi clawed one back with a cross-court shot which kissed the sideline. But the match ended on the first of three match points when Paes served a winner past Mirnyi.
“We were comfortably ahead and we made a few errors and they started playing better,” said Nestor, who next heads to Vancouver for Davis Cup tie against France. “They started making us pay and turned the tide.
“We had the chance to put them away and we didn't. We let them hang around. It was one of those days.”
Nestor, 39, has played in four Australian Open doubles finals but won his only Melbourne title with Mark Knowles of the Bahamas a decade ago.
“It was not a lousy Open, just an OK one,” Nestor said. “We played well for the most part. But once you have a game plan you need to stick to it. I think we got a bit away from that today.”
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