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November 22, 2009

Mahesh Bhupathi

Mark Knowles


6-3, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. How would you cap your performance today?
MAHESH BHUPATHI: Very solid. Basically a little tentative in the beginning, but once we got a few returns going, I think, you know, it was a very solid match. We knew we had to play solid tennis to be able to beat them.
Just want to keep it up for the next few days.

Q. Anything after they got a break late in the second set?
MAHESH BHUPATHI: Not really. I mean, we were up two breaks by then. We were feeling good.
We knew if we just kept it together, we'd either break again or hold it through. We broke again at the end fortunately.

Q. How much does experience count at this stage?
MAHESH BHUPATHI: I think it's a lot. I think together we've played this tournament, I think 15, 20 times; and these guys, it's their first Masters. We knew if we came out of the blocks firing, the occasion possibly could get to them. You know, I think it definitely plays a small role.

Q. What do you think makes you so effective as a doubles pairing?
MARK KNOWLES: Well, I think we have good chemistry on the court. You know, we've both been around the game a lot. We both understand the game of doubles really well.
You know, I think we do everything well. We don't really have a weakness, with our experience, and the fact that we can pretty much play any shot in doubles, you know. We usually have a good strategy going into the match. You know, our mindset going in is always, Let's play really well and try to stay solid.
If the other team comes up with the goods, you have to shake their hand. Most of the time we feel we're going to prevail.

Q. Mahesh, anything to add to that?
MAHESH BHUPATHI: Not really. Exactly what he said. We feel that someone has to really blow us off the court to beat us. We make a lot of balls. We make a lot of first serves, volleys and returns. Most of the time we win matches. But that's the way it goes.

Q. Are you friends off the court? Are you just work colleagues? Do you socialize together outside the tournament?
MARK KNOWLES: Yeah, we're friends off the court. We don't spend that much time together off the court. Mahesh has his group of people and I've got my group of people. But, you know, we get along really well. We've competed against each other for a long time. Always had that mutual respect for one another. You know, we've had a great partnership over the couple years that we've played.
You know, I think that's important.

Q. What do you think about the whole stadium and the fact that it was pretty much full soon after you started playing? Sort of different atmosphere for you?
MARK KNOWLES: We're used to playing in front of 15,000 pretty much every day (laughter).
No, I mean, it's fantastic. I mean, Mahesh and I had remarked this afternoon, you know, we saw how crowded it was for the afternoon session. We were pretty pumped up going out there.
It's fantastic to be in London. It's a great venue. With Wimbledon, the tennis tradition is very rich here. The O2 arena is pretty spectacular. Like you said, I think there were 15,000-people-or-some out of the there. You really felt it out there. We really tried to play our best tennis, tried to put on a show.
It's really a pleasure to play in front of that many people because we don't get that opportunity too often.

Q. Do you think it does raise the level, sharpens everyone up?
MARK KNOWLES: Personally I think so, for sure. I think Mahesh would agree. It's nice. You really feel the people appreciate what you're doing out there. You try to play your best tennis, so it's entertaining for them as well. Unfortunately, a few too many times we play in front of more sparse crowds, and you don't get the energy, whereas today, there was a great energy out there while we were playing. And the fans were really reacting to the tennis they were watching.

Q. Obviously being a round robin, irrespective of what happens in a first or second match, you have other opportunities. Can you address the importance of winning the first match of a round robin event such as this.
MAHESH BHUPATHI: Well, you know, extremely important. I mean, especially today after we saw the result in the morning, the top team in our group lost, so that kind of throws the whole group wide open. It's very important for us to get off with a win today.
I think we pretty much need to win the next two matches as well to keep it alive in the semis. Glad we did it.

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