Leander Paes heads Indian hopes at Dubai Tennis Championships

The Indian tennis legend, along with fellow wildcard Prajnesh Gunneswaran, is set to play in the ATP 500 event’s main draw starting Monday.

By Sandeep Banerjee ·

With Indian tennis players Leander Paes and Prajnesh Gunneswaran at the helm, Indian interest is set to kick off in earnest at the ongoing Dubai Tennis Championships as the men’s singles and doubles main draw gets underway on Monday.

Olympic bronze medallist Leander Paes will once again pair up with his Aussie teammate Matthew Ebden. The two kicked off their partnership in 2020, with a runner-up finish at the Bengaluru Tennis Open marking their most successful outing yet.

The Indo-Aussie duo was granted a wildcard into the Dubai Tennis Championships’ main draw, where they will take on the second-seeded pairing of Croatia’s Ivan Dodig and Slovakia’s Filip Polasek, whose most recent accomplishment includes toughing it out till the semi-finals of the Australian Open.

Leander Paes will be hoping to notch up the first win of his ‘The Last Roar’ farewell tour at the Dubai International Championships.

While Leander Paes will no doubt be hoping to notch up the first win of his ‘The Last Roar’ farewell tour, the Dubai stopover will also allow the Indian tennis veteran to cherish one last time the popularity he enjoyed at the venue over the years.

“Dubai, where I have always enjoyed great support from the Indian diaspora, will certainly be one of my last stops,” 46-year-old Leander Paes had told Gulf News.

Prajnesh Gunneswaran to carry singles hope

Leander Paes wasn’t the only Indian granted a wildcard, as no. 1 ranked Indian tennis player, Prajnesh Gunneswaran too was assured of competing in the singles’ round of 32.

After a less-than-ideal start to 2019 that saw him suffer early exits from the Australian Open, Tata Maharashtra Open and the Bengaluru Tennis Open, he will be hoping to set himself on course for a turnaround in form.

On Tuesday, Prajnesh Gunneswaran will square off against Austria's Dennis Novak in his round-of-32 match.

Rohan Bopanna fails to make the show

While Leander Paes and Prajnesh Gunneswaran were granted wildcards, Rohan Bopanna and Spanish teammate Pablo Carreno Busta came up short in their efforts to make the main draw.

After beating Lukas Rosol and Viktor Troicki in Saturday’s qualifier, the Indo-Spaniard pairing’s challenge fizzled out against Henri Kontinen and Jan-Lennard Struff on Sunday, with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-10 loss.

Sania Mirza shifts focus to Qatar Open

Apart from Leander Paes, Indian tennis fans were also hoping to cheer on another one of their legends in the tournament.

However, Sania Mirza’s Dubai Tennis Championships 2020 campaign hopes were nipped in the bud as the 33-year-old and her partner, Carolina Garcia of France, suffered a round-of-16 loss to the Chinese-Czech duo of Zheng Saisai and Barbora Krejcikova on Wednesday.

Sania Mirza and Caroline Garcia will take on the Turkish-German pairing of Cagla Buyukakcay and Laura Siegemund in the round-of-32 on Monday.

Schedule and fixtures for Dubai Tennis Championships

Leander Paes and Matthew Ebden will take on Ivan Dodig and Slovakia’s Filip Polasek in their round-of-16 match on Tuesday, February 25. Also on the same day, Prajnesh Gunneswaran and Dennis Novak will compete in the men's singles round-of-32.

Fixtures for the Indian tennis players beyond the day at the Dubai Tennis Championships will be established after the matches on Tuesday.

Where to watch the Dubai Tennis Championships

There is no live telecast of the Dubai Tennis Championships in India. The action, however, can still be followed with scores on the official ATP website at atptour.com or stream the coverage on the Tennis TV website here.