London: Three-time former finalists and fourth seeds, India's Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes, beat seventh-seeded Austrian Jurgen Melzer and German Philipp Petzschner 7-5, 6-3 in their Group A match to stay alive in the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals doubles.

Bhupathi and Paes - losing finalists to Americans Rick Leach and Jonathan Stark in 1997, to another American pair Sebastien Lareau and Alex O'Brien in 1999 and to American Daniel Johnson and South African Piet Norval in 2000 -- improved to a 31-13 match record for the season, highlighted by three titles.

'I thought Hesh played brilliantly today and moved great,' Paes told after Wednesday's match. 'Especially at the net, he made some pretty cool volleys, one of them a block backhand half-volley crosscourt and you don't teach that at home.'

Bhupathi said: 'We played a high quality match. I think it was important to start off well and we were able to keep that momentum throughout the match. Hopefully we can keep it up 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.

Bhupathi and Paes reached the Australian Open final in January where they lost to Bryan twins Bob and Mike, while US Open champions Melzer and Petzschner are now 0-2 in round-robin play at the circuit finals.
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 said.

'We've played them so many times before, so we know what to expect,' he added.

Paes chipped in to say that 'the quality of tennis has always been high and the differences between winning and losing is literally one or 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.'