Tag Archives: showpiece

Ronnie O"Sullivan says snooker return could be car crash TV

It could be car crash television, but I'll still be worth watching! Returning O'Sullivan says appearance at Crucible will be like a reality TV show

By
Matt Mcgeehan, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

17:30 GMT, 15 April 2013

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UPDATED:

18:48 GMT, 15 April 2013

Snooker's biggest star Ronnie O'Sullivan joked that his return for the Betfair World Championship at the Crucible will be like watching Big Brother.

The 37-year-old has taken most of this season off, but is returning for the spring showpiece in Sheffield.

And he said: 'It's like my own reality TV show. It could be car crash, it could be good. You just don't know.

'I’ve never been one for doing Big Brother but this is about as close as it gets to it. It’s definitely exciting for me and everyone looking in.

Making his return: Ronnie O'Sullivan poses during the media launch for the World Championship at The Groucho Club in London on Monday

Making his return: Ronnie O'Sullivan poses during the media launch for the World Championship at The Groucho Club in London on Monday

'If I'm cueing all right and feeling all right, then I should be a match for anyone, but who knows'

The snooker world waits with bated breath to see what kind of form O'Sullivan will be in at the Crucible.

He insists that his desire for success, focus, to lose weight and reconnect with friends encouraged him to return to defend his title.

The 37-year-old Chigwell cueman
confirmed in February that he would defend the title he won 12 months
ago, despite not competing in a tournament since.

'There's a part of me that wants
instant success,' the four-time champion said. 'That would be nice, but
for me it's just about having fun. I felt it was time to have some sort
of focus in my life.

'Running was a massive part of my
life and I found I got that lazy having nothing to do, I had too much
time to even go and run in the end. I started putting weight on.

'I realised that snooker gave me an
opportunity to meet some good people, to travel and that's kind of what I
missed, missing the routine.'

Ready for the big one: World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn and Ronnie O'Sullivan attend the media launch for the World Championship

Ready for the big one: World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn and Ronnie O'Sullivan attend the media launch for the World Championship

O'Sullivan has lost a stone since
deciding to come back by returning to a routine and plans to run during
the 17-day World Championship, which begins on Saturday with his
first-round match against Marcus Campbell.

O'Sullivan believes he has plenty to
offer the game, adding: 'If you look at it statistically I've done
pretty well, but from my own perspective I feel like I've still
underachieved. I'd like to win another world title in my forties. I've
not set myself the goal to win this year's world title because that
would be a bit of a silly goal.

'I'd like to be a world champion when
I'm 40. It gives me a bit of leeway. It's the long game I'm looking at,
rather than just the short-term. This is just the start.'

Winning on his comeback would be an
overwhelming experience, O'Sullivan admitted. 'It would be a fairytale
dream, but last year was my greatest performance,' he said.

'I'd had a good season and it was
expected by pretty much everyone that I was going to win the tournament
before it started. To me that is the ultimate achievement, because
anything other than a win would've been seen as a failure in most
people's eyes.

'This year it's a different ball
game. I've come here with no matches under my belt. It'll just be nice
to be out there playing. I don't have anything to prove to the general
public.'

Champion: O'Sullivan celebrates last year's win in Sheffield

Champion: O'Sullivan celebrates last year's win in Sheffield

O'Sullivan is something of an enigma
and has worked with Dr Steve Peters, the sports psychiatrist who worked
with British Cycling and whom he now regards as a friend. O'Sullivan is
instinctive in his game and his life and his recent practice sessions
with Peter Ebdon were 'by coincidence' in Sheffield.

'Peter was the only decent player for
me to play. I had no choice,' O'Sullivan said. 'That's not being
horrible because I love Peter. And I can handle him better now since
I've been working with Steve Peters. I wish I'd been working with him 20
years ago.'

O'Sullivan was speaking at the Groucho Club in London's Soho alongside world No 1 Mark Selby, who is favourite for the title.

Selby, described as an 'invoicing
operation' by World Snooker chief Barry Hearn, has won the UK
Championship and Masters tournaments this year and is aiming to become
the fourth player – after Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry and Mark Williams –
to win the 'triple crown' in the same season.

The 29-year-old from Leicester said:
'It's a tough tournament to win. There's a lot of great players in it.
It's great to have Ronnie back playing as well, so it's going to be
tough.

'He's one of the most natural players
to ever play our game. If any one player can do it (win after a year
out), Ronnie's the person.'

Grand National 2013: Last year"s fatalities put jump racing under the microscope

Grand National faces biggest test with fatalities putting jump racing under the microscope

By
Marcus Townend

PUBLISHED:

21:04 GMT, 3 April 2013

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UPDATED:

21:04 GMT, 3 April 2013

Four Grade One races of rare quality grace today’s opening day of Aintree’s Grand National meeting while tomorrow the clash between steeplechase superstar Sprinter Sacre, Cue Card and Flemenstar is being billed as the race of the season.

But which horses pass the winning line first over the next three days won’t matter a jot if Saturday’s big race turns into another visceral examination of jump racing.

Twelve months ago, when two horses were killed for a second year running, including Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Synchronised, the joy was squeezed out of the victory of Neptune Collonges.

Scroll down for Peter Scudamore's inside track on Aintree's new fences

Preparations: Aintree ground staff were tending to the new safer fences ahead of the three-day meeting

Preparations: Aintree ground staff were tending to the new safer fences ahead of the three-day meeting

The deaths of Synchronised and According To Pete raised questions as to whether the race could even survive in its present form.

RSPCA chief executive Gavin Grant called the deaths ‘totally unacceptable’ while branding the famous Becher’s Brook, where According To Pete was brought down before being hit by another horse, a ‘killer fence’. A nervous calm precedes this year’s race but a major modification to the fences’ construction has been welcomed (see graphic above).

Spokesmen for the RSPCA and World Horse Welfare deny the race is on trial but another body blow would be serious given a sponsor is being sought with John Smiths leaving after Saturday’s race.

Finishing touch: The grass on the Grand National finish line was cut this week before the Aintree showpiece

Finishing touch: The grass on the Grand National finish line was cut this week before the Aintree showpiece

WHW chief executive Roly Owers said: ‘There is still huge support for the race but there also are increasing voices within racing questioning whether the National is doing the sport any good. The warning bells have sounded and Aintree have recognised that.

‘Our biggest issue with the National is the number of fallers. It is five times higher than a normal steeplechase. The fewer fallers, the less chance of injury. The changes to the fence core are a real step forward and we also welcome the improvements in irrigation.

‘We recognise you can’t eliminate risk. The responsibility is to minimise it.’

WHW have repeated a call to reduce the number of starters.Owers said: ‘We believe there should be a trial reduction of three years. We recognise it has to be a great test but you can’t just accept the regular death of horses.’

Scrutiny: Last year's Grand National (above) saw the fatalities of According to Pete and Synchronised

Scrutiny: Last year's Grand National (above) saw the fatalities of According to Pete and Synchronised

RSPCA equine consultant David Muir added: ‘With 40 runners, you have 40 chances of things going wrong. I’d like to see them reduce it to 30 but we don’t run racing.’

Jockeys have been asked to moderate their speed to the first fence and the run-up to it has been shortened by 90 yards by moving the start further away from the unsettling cauldron of noise coming from of the grandstands.

Jamie Stier, BHA director of raceday operations, said: ‘The changes are all designed for horse welfare but at the same time we have maintained the shape, size and character of the fences.

Fences

‘People have to understand the position of the race within the fabric of society. Attendance figures last year were 155,000 at the meeting and more people watch the Grand National on TV than the FA Cup final — more than 11million — with a global audience of 600m in 140 countries.

‘We don’t feel it is on trial. It is down to the BHA and Aintree to find a way forward.’

Still, a lot of people will be holding their breath on Saturday.

Peter Scudamore looks at the major fences at this year's Grand…

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AFRICA CUP OF NATIONS FINAL LIVE: Nigeria v Burkina Faso

AFRICA CUP OF NATIONS LIVE: Nigeria v Burkina Faso – as it happens from Soccer City

By
Peter Scott

PUBLISHED:

17:55 GMT, 10 February 2013

|

UPDATED:

18:17 GMT, 10 February 2013

Follow Sportsmail's coverage of the Africa Cup of Nations final between Nigeria and Burkina Faso from Soccer City.

The showpiece pitches one of the rank outsiders against a side who are slowly clawing their way back to top of the tree on the continent.

Minnows Burkina Faso have never reached a final before, while Nigeria, driven on by Chelsea's Victor Moses, are twice winners of the competition.

NIGERIA v BURKINA FASO

Nigeria: Enyeama, Echiejile, Omeruo, Oboabona, Ambrose, Onanzi, Mikel, Mba, Moses, Ideye, Uche.

Burkina Faso: Diakite, Koffi, Kone, Koulibaly, Panandetiguiri, Kone, Kabore, Rouamba, Nakoulma, Pitroipa, Bance.

Referee: Djamel Haimoudi (Algeria)

18.17: Soccer City is noisy, the sounds of vuvuzelas droning across the ground. It's a dry, reasonably cool evening. Much will depend on how Nigeria cope with the loss of Emenike, while for Burkina Faso, Pitroipa will have a big role to play. Incidentally, his red card in the semi-final was for diving. The referee contacted the tournament organisers afterwards to say he'd made a mistake and asked for the card to be rescinded.

18.04: So it's the Super Eagles v the Stallions. These teams have already played each other once in the tournament. That game finished 1-1. Burkina Faso went on to win the group.

17.58: Hello and welcome to live coverage of the Africa Cup of Nations final between Nigeria and Burkina Faso. Nigeria were impressive in their 4-1 defeat of Mali in the semi-finals, while surprise package Burkina Faso stunned Ghana with a penalty-shootout victory. Nigeria will start favourites, you'd think, but they are without striker Emmanuel Emenike, out through injury. Chelsea's Victor Moses plays despite an ankle knock. For Burkina Faso, Jonathan Pitroipa starts after his semi-final red card was rescinded. We kick off at 1830.

Party time: The pre-final show at Soccer City was spectacular as Nigeria and Burkina Faso prepared for action

Party time: The pre-final show at Soccer City was spectacular as Nigeria and Burkina Faso prepared for action

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Eden Hazard kicks ball boy at Swansea v Chelsea

Hazard horror: Chelsea's Eden shown a red card for kicking ball boy at Swansea

By
Riath Al-samarrai

PUBLISHED:

21:36 GMT, 23 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

22:18 GMT, 23 January 2013

Chelsea's bid for Capital One Cup glory ended in shame when Eden Hazard was sent off for kicking a ball boy.

In extraordinary scenes as Swansea went through to the final, Chelsea forward Hazard wrestled the boy to the ground in attempting to get the ball back after 79 minutes.

The ball boy held on to the ball and apparently refused to give it up when Hazard could clearly be seen kicking the boy in the ribs.

After consulting with one of his assistants, referee Chris Foy showed the 22-year-old a straight red card.

Swansea will face League Two Bradford in the Wembley showpiece after a 2-0 aggregate victory.

VIDEO: Scroll down to see Hazard's kick on a ball boy

Frustration: Eden Hazard clashes with the ball boy at the Liberty Stadium

Frustration: Eden Hazard clashes with the ball boy at the Liberty Stadium

Flashpoint: Eden Hazard clashes with the Swansea ballboy

Flashpoint: Eden Hazard clashes with the Swansea ballboy

Flashpoint: Eden Hazard clashes with the ballboy

Swans defender Ashley Williams claimed he saw Hazard kick the ball boy.

Chelsea players reacted angrily when Hazard saw red, believing he had tried to get the ball loose to re-start play as the Blues failed to make any inroads on Swansea's 2-0 advantage from the first leg.

'Demba Ba told me the ball boy held on to it,' Williams told Sky Sports 1.

'I saw him kick him in the rib and you can't do that to a young boy.'

Tete a tete: Referee Chris Foy (left) consults one of his officials as the ball boy lies hurt on the floor

Tete a tete: Referee Chris Foy (left) consults one of his officials as the ball boy lies hurt on the floor

Early bath: Hazard (right) gets his marching orders from Foy

Early bath: Hazard (right) gets his marching orders from Foy

VIDEO: Watch Hazard kick the ball boy

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Rafael Nadal pulls out of Australian Open

Aussie agony for Nadal as injury rules Spaniard out of first grand slam of 2013

|

UPDATED:

15:43 GMT, 28 December 2012


Aussie ruled: Nadal has pulled out of the showpiece event

Aussie ruled: Nadal has pulled out of the showpiece event

World No 4 Rafael Nadal has pulled out of the Australian Open due to a stomach virus.

The Spaniard has not played since suffering his shock second-round exit at Wimbledon to unheralded Czech Lukas Rosol due to a knee injury.

He had been due to return at this week's exhibition event in Abu Dhabi but the virus forced him to withdraw.

And he has now decided to extend that absence to include the season's opening grand slam event in Melbourne.

Former world No 1 Nadal, a
winner of 11 grand slam titles, including one Down Under in 2009, told
the Australian Open's official website: 'I am sorry and very sad to
announce that I will not play in the Australian Open.

'My knee is coming along okay, but a
stomach virus has left me unable to get ready in time to tackle the
rigours of a grand slam.

'Because of the virus, I have been
unable to get any match practice and simply would not be doing myself or
my friends in Australia justice if I went down there so unprepared.

'You need your body to be at its best for the Australian Open.

'It was a difficult decision and I am extremely disappointed to be missing such a great event.

'I love coming to Melbourne and playing on Rod Laver Arena before the Australian crowds. It brings out the best in me.

'It
hurts to have to wait another 12 months before I get another chance. In
the meantime, the focus is now on desperately trying to get back on the
tour.'

Nadal has now targeted the Abierto
Mexicano Telcel event in Acapulco which starts on February 25 for his
comeback, although he remains optimistic of returning before that.

Wimble-done: Nadal hasn't featured since the defeat to Rosol

Wimble-done: Nadal hasn't featured since the defeat to Rosol

He added on Facebook: 'As my team and doctors say, the safest thing to do is to do things well and this virus has delayed my plans of playing these weeks.

'I will have to wait until the Acapulco tournament to compete again although I could consider to play before at any other ATP event.'

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said: 'It is completely understandable and we really feel disappointed for him.

'But without any match practice and without sufficient lead up time on the practice court, it makes it virtually impossible for him to get his body ready.

'We just hope he gets better quickly and we see him back on the tour as soon as possible.

'Tennis fans across the world have been missing him. Our Australian Open staff will very much miss him and his team as he is not only a great player, but also a great guy with good people around him.

'We wish Rafa all the best. I am confident we will see him back on the tour soon and back in Australia for 2014, no doubt as one of the contenders for the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup.'

Prior to the virus, Nadal had spoken of how he was intending to use the first few weeks of his comeback simply as a means of regaining full fitness.

However, his absence, while a blow to tournament organisers and his fans, will be a boost to the other members of the big four – Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray.

Mark Selby reaches williamhill.com UK Championship final

Selby on top of the world after reaching UK Championship final

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UPDATED:

22:03 GMT, 8 December 2012

Mark Selby reached the top of the snooker world for a second time on Saturday night and pledged to take the pressure off himself this time around, starting with Sunday's williamhill.com UK Championship final.

Selby held the game's number-one ranking for 14 months between September last year and November this, losing it to Judd Trump when the Bristol potter landed the International Championship.

No pressure: Mark Selby at the table

No pressure: Mark Selby at the table

But with Trump falling at the first
hurdle in his defence of this title in York, Selby knew reaching the
final would put him back at the top of the ladder and he ticked that
achievement off on Saturday, completing a 9-4 victory over rugged
veteran Mark Davis.

He now meets long-time friend Shaun
Murphy in a final which will be his first ever UK showpiece, and he is
determined to learn from his previous reign at number one in order to
try and lift the trophy.

He achieved top billing last time with a win at the Shanghai Masters, but that was his last significant success.

His time in power was barren and he wants to avoid that happening again.

'It's a great feat to get back to
number one, there have only been nine number ones other than me,' he
said. 'Maybe when I was there before I put too much pressure on myself. I
need to learn from that and try and go out there and enjoy it tomorrow.

Going down: Mark Davis eyes up a shot in defeat

Going down: Mark Davis eyes up a shot in defeat

'I didn't come here this week with the aim of being number one. It's great that I am, but if I don't win tomorrow…'

Murphy and Selby are often off-the-radar players at events, despite their decorated resumes.

Here they have outlasted the more fancied Mark Allen, John Higgins, Neil Robertson and Trump.

As well as being evenly matched on
the baize, the two are good friends off it, and for Selby tomorrow will
be the realisation of a long-held dream.

'Me and Shaun haven't played each
other for a while but we have grown up together through the junior ranks
and always been good friends,' he said.

'I always said to him that it would
be great for us to play in a ranking final and now we are. For whatever
reason before it hasn't happened, so it will be good.'

Selby's top score today was a
second-frame 121, but he looked a little off it at the Barbican, taking a
long time to put his veteran opponent to bed.

He will need to be sharper against
Murphy – a man buzzing from a five-frame comeback against Ali Carter
last night – and he admits he has work to do.

Back on top: Mark Selby relishing a final berth

Back on top: Mark Selby relishing a final berth

'I was missing some easy balls today and I need to work on that tomorrow,' he said.

'I am definitely motivated. I didn't play fantastic and, although it was a good match of snooker, I need to play a lot better.'

Defeat marked the end of the road at
this tournament for Davis, a seasoned pro who at the age of 40 has
finally made a serious impact on the top level of the sport.

This was his third ranking
semi-final of the week but he failed to deliver performances like those
which saw him beat the likes of John Higgins and Matthew Stevens in the
earlier rounds.

'I was a little bit nervous but I
enjoyed it. In the first few I didn't quite get into position, but
getting a 70-odd settled me down. I played poorly tonight, though,' he
said.

'But I'm not going to let it affect me in a bad way. I've had a great week and beaten some top players.

'Even though I've been a pro for 21
years, there have been some new things for me and I know that I will
learn from it next time.'

Silverstone pay 1m in refunds after summer Grand Prix washout

Torrential downpours leave Silverstone chiefs counting 1m refund cost

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UPDATED:

15:43 GMT, 4 December 2012

Silverstone officials have revealed the 1million cost of refunding 10,000 ticket holders who were unable to attend this year’s British Grand Prix as the circuit's infrastructure collapsed under the heavy rainfall in the build-up to July's showpiece event.

Chaos ensued as waterlogged campsites and car parks were forced to close while the roads surrounding the Northamptonshire track quickly became gridlocked.

The damage was such that race organisers told fans to stay away from Saturday qualifying in a desperate attempt to give grass car parks time to drain in time for the race on Sunday.

It never rains, but it pours: The drivers - and spectators - struggled in the wet conditions

It never rains, but it pours: The drivers – and spectators – struggled in the wet

It never rains, but it pours: The drivers - and spectators - struggled in the wet conditions

Remarkably, as the conditions improved, a record 127,000 spectators watched Red Bull’s Mark Webber roar to victory.

But Silverstone Circuits Managing Director, Richard Phillips, who admitted at the time he had considered quitting his post, has vowed to do all he can to ensure the misery endured by thousands is not repeated next year.

Park and Ride schemes will be expanded to cover all three days of the grand prix while shuttle services from local train stations will also be increased.

In addition, investment will also be made in improving the venue’s non-tarmacked car parks in an attempt to prevent them turning into quagmires should the heavens open once more.

Phillips said: 'For more than 10 years now, fans have had little or no issue getting in and out of the circuit for the British Grand Prix, so it's important to keep the problems of this year in perspective.

Counting the cost: Silverstone chiefs have paid out 1m in refunds

Counting the cost: Silverstone chiefs have paid out 1m in refunds

Counting the cost: Silverstone chiefs have paid out 1m in refunds

'That said, the traffic issues on the Friday of this year’s event, and having to ask a number of fans to stay away on the Saturday, were far from ideal.

'We have learned from this year’s experience and are taking steps to ensure we’re better equipped to deal with whatever the weather may throw at us in future.

'This year's torrential weather, waterlogged campsites and saturated car parks created a 'perfect storm' of unforeseeable issues, to which we were having to react throughout a difficult and challenging day. We are confident that we won’t see a repeat of the events of this year.'

LIVE: Novak Djokovic v Roger Federer: Score from ATP World Tour finals at O2 Arena

Novak Djokovic v Roger Federer: Latest score from the ATP World Tour Finals showpiece at the O2 Arena

PUBLISHED:

17:50 GMT, 12 November 2012

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UPDATED:

17:50 GMT, 12 November 2012

Follow the action as Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer battle it out to win the ATP World Tour Finals at London's O2 Arena from 8pm on Monday night.

The pair, world Nos 1 and 2 respectively, have won 22 Grand Slams between them and saw off Juan Martin Del Potro and home favourite Andy Murray in the semi-finals.

The final gets under way at 8pm.

CLICK HERE FOR THE LIVE SCORE

Top two: World No 1 Novak Djokovic (above) and world No 2 Roger Federer (below)

Top two: World No 1 Novak Djokovic (above) and world No 2 Roger Federer (below)

Top two: World No 1 Novak Djokovic (above) and world No 2 Roger Federer (below)

Jonny Marray and Freddie Nielsen lose in World Finals semi-final

No dream finale for Marray and Nielsen as Spanish duo reach London showpiece

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UPDATED:

22:55 GMT, 11 November 2012

A year which saw Jonny Marray propelled from obscure journeyman to household name came to an abrupt end on Sunday night, and almost certainly so did his partnership with Frederik Nielsen.

The Anglo-Danish pair were defeated 6-4, 6-3 by Spain’s Marc Granollers and Marc Lopez in the semi-final of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. So there will be no follow-up to the unlikely Wimbledon win that got them to the O2 Arena.

Given that Nielsen has ambitious plans to try to excel at singles, despite being ranked outside the top 300, it will be their last match for the foreseeable future. The 31-year-old from Sheffield is still scouting around for a new partner.

Over and out: Jonathan Marray and Frederik Nielsen were beaten in the semi-final

Over and out: Jonathan Marray and Frederik Nielsen were beaten in the semi-final

Having got to the last four of the season’s last two sizeable events — here and in Paris — Marray should not have too many problems finding somebody. He and Nielsen were the lowest seeds at this event, so to have made it to the last Sunday was a decent achievement.

Marray will end the year ranked inside the top 20 for doubles, and assuming he can line someone up within the world’s top 40, will gain direct entry into the big events next season. He should be able to leave the world of Challenger-level tennis behind. Marray and his partner will share 70,000 for their endeavours this week, meaning the Liverpool-born player will have cleared 200,000 in earnings for 2012 — a tidy sum for a doubles specialist.

Nielsen dropped his first service game and the victorious Spaniards now face India’s Rohan Bopanna and Mahesh Bhupathi in Sunday’s final.

Here we go: Spanish duo Marc Lopez and Marcel Granollers celebrate their win

Here we go: Spanish duo Marc Lopez and Marcel Granollers celebrate their win

ATP World Tours Finals: Jonny Marray and Freddie Nielsen win doubles

Marray and Nielsen survive huge scare to revive London love affair at ATP Finals

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UPDATED:

14:38 GMT, 6 November 2012

Wimbledon champions Jonny Marray and Freddie Nielsen extended their winning streak in London in dramatic fashion with victory over Indian pair Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna in their opening match at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.

The British-Danish duo's success at SW19 as wild cards was one of the most unlikely stories of the sporting year and earned them a place at the end-of-season showpiece at the O2 Arena.

They made a great start on Monday afternoon, winning the opening set, and held a match point at 6-5 in the second but Marray's return found the top of the net.

Back on form: Jonathan Marray (left) and Frederik Nielsen celebrate their victory at London's O2

Back on form: Jonathan Marray (left) and Frederik Nielsen celebrate their victory at London's O2

It looked like their chance had gone when the Indians levelled the match and then took a 5-1 lead in the match tie-break but Marray and Nielsen fought back to take a 8-7 lead.

Twice Bhupathi and Bopanna held match points, at 9-8 and 10-9, but Marray and Nielsen saved them both and then took their chance, with the Dane serving it out 6-4 6-7 (1/7) 12-10.

On the money: Marray and Nielsen picked up from where they left off at Wimbledon in the summer

On the money: Marray and Nielsen picked up from where they left off at Wimbledon in the summer

Talking tactics: Marray (right) and Nielsen figure out a way to win their opening doubles clash

Talking tactics: Marray (right) and Nielsen figure out a way to win their opening doubles clash