London: Fourth seeds and three-time former finalists Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes beat seventh seed Jurgen Melzer and Philipp Petzschner 7-5, 6-3 on Wednesday in Group A at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.
Bhupathi and Paes, finalists in 1997, 1999 and 2000 improved to a 31-13 match record on the season, highlighted by three titles.
"I thought Hesh played brilliantly today and moved great," Paes said. "Especially at the net, he made some pretty cool volleys. One of them he made a block backhand half-volley crosscourt and said, 'you don't teach that at home'."
Bhupathi added, "We played a high quality match. I think it was important to start off well and we were able to keep that momentum all match. Hopefully we can keep it up on Friday and win through to the weekend."
Bhupathi and Paes broke Petzschner to 15 for a 3-1 lead, but a well-placed backhand volley winner by Petzschner on Bhupathi's serve in the next game got the first set back on serve.
At 5-6, 0/40, Petschner saved three set points with powerful serves, but on sudden death deuce, he stayed back and Bhupathi hit a deep forehand return to his feet. Bhupathi and Paes won the first set in 39 minutes, having won 18 of 23 points on their first serves.
In the second set, Bhupathi was almost broken at 2-2 but the 'Indian Express' survived and took a 5-3 lead when Petzschner hit two double faults from 30/30. Bhupathi calmly closed out to love.
Paes and Bhupathi will next meet top seeds and three-time former champions Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan on Friday. "We've played them before and beaten them," Bhupathi told ATPWorldTour.com. "We've played them so many times before, so we know what to expect."
Paes added, "The quality of tennis is has always been high and the differences between winning and literally one of two shots. We know that the energy of the match will be really high-tempo. It will be a fast-paced match, as they like to play fast.
"So we have to be ready for that. At the end of the day we need to play good tennis, like we always have done against them, it will be a great match."