Defending Champs Slip to 0-2
Jonas Bjorkman and Max Mirnyi's hopes of successfully defending their Tennis Masters Cup crown are now remote at best after they suffered a second consecutive defeat in Shanghai. The duo fell 7-6(3), 6-4 to Paul Hanley and Kevin Ullyett on Tuesday.
Ullyett, who will team up permanently with Bjorkman after next year's Australian Open, was sensational on return. There were no breaks of serve in the first set but on Bjorkman's serve in the seventh game Ullyett set up two break points for his team with consecutive backhand winners, followed by a great forehand return.
Hanley and Ullyett raced to a 4-0 lead in the tie-break but Bjorkman and Mirnyi reclaimed both mini breaks on Ullyett's serve to claw back 4-3 down. But consecutive forehand volley errors - first from Bjorkman and then by a reaching Mirnyi - saw the team's hopes fade as quick as they had been raised.
Bjorkman and Mirnyi claimed the first break of the match in the third game of the second set with a classic play at 30/40 on Ullyett's serve: Bjorkman ripped a dipping backhand return and a lunging Mirnyi picked off Ullyett's upward volley. But from 2-4 down Hanley and Ullyett broke Bjorkman and then Mirnyi in the final game of the match during a four-game sweep.
Hanley and Ullyett, who improved their group record to 1-1, remain in strong contention for a semifinal berth.