MELBOURNE, Australia – Toronto’s Daniel Nestor and Belarusian partner Max Mirnyi reached the men’s doubles semifinals of the Australian Open on Wednesday, defeating Santiago Gonzalez of Mexico and German Christopher Kas 6-1, 6-7 (4-7), 6-2.
The No. 2 seeds will face the winners of a quarter-final between American Eric Butorac and Bruno Soares of Brazil, and Indian Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic.
Nestor said that after suffering a slight strain in his hitting arm in a previous round, the day off he requested for the team on Tuesday paid off.
“I felt something in my forearm in the last match when I tried to reflex a volley,” he said. “I basically swung at air and missed and I felt it pull a bit. I’m glad we got the day off, it really helped.”
Nestor and Mirnyi, who won a tournament in Brisbane earlier this month, are heading closer to a possible replay of the 2010 Melbourne final, which they lost to current world No. 1 pair Bob and Mike Bryan of the United States.
The match against Gonzalez and Kas looked like a runaway in the first set, with Nestor’s team blowing into the lead in 22 minutes.
But the complexion of the match changed rapidly in the second set as Gonzalez and Kas got accustomed to their opponents.
Nestor and Mirnyi were constantly playing catch-up, with the set heading into a tiebreaker. Once in the decider, Gonzalez and Kas earned set point with a return at Mirnyi’s feet and converted to level at one set each.
“After the first set they served pretty well and put a lot of pressure on us,” Nestor said.
“They got in a lot of first serves on big points. They played solid and we gave them a couple of break points which let them get back into it.”
Nestor and Mirnyi put their vast experience to work in the third set to regain control, converting on break point to take a 4-2 lead. The pair claimed victory after one hour 41 minutes as Nestor drove an untouchable volley down the middle on match point.
Nestor and Mirnyi ended with five aces and 41 combined winners.
Nestor, 39, has played in four Australian Open doubles finals and won the title with Mark Knowles of the Bahamas a decade ago.
“We came her to win the event,” Nestor said. “We’ve gone this far but the matches are only going to get tougher.
“That’s why we had the short off-season and came early to Brisbane. Hopefully we can win, it’s been a long time for me here.”