By Philip James
Dominika Cibulkova/Monica Niculescu def Laura Robson/Lisa Raymond 6-4, 6-4
Mahesh Bhupathi/Rohan Bopanna(6) def Jonny Marray/Dominic Inglot 6-2, 6-3
Robson was again partnering Lisa Raymond with whom she reached the Miami Sony Open final in March.
Raymond, who has been helping the young Brit since she split with her coach earlier this month, has 79 career doubles titles and is ranked 11th in the world in doubles.
Though Cibulkova is ranked 77th in doubles she is best known as a singles player, seeded 16th in Rome and earlier today had been hammered 6-0, 6-1 by Robson’s conqueror and top seed, Serena Williams.
Niculescu, is ranked 46th and 63rd in singles and doubles respectively, leaving Raymond as by far the highest ranking doubles player on court.
It was the service game which let Robson and Raymond down in the first set, making only 39% of first serves, allowing their opponents to break twice to their once to take the set 6-4.
The second set was a story of missed opportunities for the British-American pairing.
They improved on serve, holding with ease in all but one game, at 1-1 when their opponents broke with their first and only break point of the set.
Over the course of their next three receiving games Robson and Raymond had seven points to break back and level the set.
But Cibulkova and Niculescu saved all seven to keep their noses in front and served out the match, taking their first match point to win 6-4, 6-4 in an hour and 12minutes.
It was always likely to be a touch match against Bhupathi and Bopanna, who are ranked 10th and 12th respectively and have both won ATP tour events this year, Bopanna’s with Scot Colin Fleming in Marseille.
Marray and Inglot, ranked 18th and 42nd in doubles respectively, missed three break points early on before Marray was broken at 1-2.
The sixth seeds then saved another two break points to consolidate the break, and two more to maintain their advantage and stretch their lead to 5-2.
After the Brits had failed to capitalise on any of their seven break points, Indian pairing made it two breaks from two break points as they clinched the set on a Marray double fault.
Bhupathi and Bopanna maintained their 100% conversion rate as they broke again, Inglot this time, at the first opportunity in the second set.
From their there was little drama as both teams held comfortably and the sixth seeds served out to win 6-2, 6-3 in 52 minutes.