Tennis

Leander Paes outsmarts Divij Sharan at Tata Open Maharashtra

The veteran teamed up with Matthew Ebden and saw off the Divij Sharan-Artem Sitak pair in straight sets.

By Rahul Venkat ·

Leander Paes and Australian Matthew Ebden beat second seeds, Divij Sharan and Artem Sitak 6-2, 7-6(2) in their round of 16 fixture at the Tata Open Maharashtra in Pune on Tuesday.

Divij Sharan, who won the doubles title last year alongside compatriot Rohan Bopanna, seemed out of place in the first set. Both him and Artem Sitak could not return Leander Paes and Matthew Ebden’s serves regularly and in that process, conceded two of their own service games to go down tamely in the first set.

The 46-year-old Leander Paes, who has announced that 2020 would be his last season on court, rolled back the years to display some vintage tennis, expertly pulling off his instinctive net play and hit some sweet cross-court winners.

His serves were also on point as he saved four break points in the fifth game of the second set and along with his partner, saved 10 break points overall on the night. However, the Indo-Kiwi pair fought well in the second set, taking it into the tie-break with some good doubles play.

Their passiveness did not help their cause though as Leander Paes and Matthew Ebden hit some great winners in the tie-break to win it 7-5 and march into the Tata Open Maharashtra quarter-finals.

Prajnesh Gunneswaran wins in straight sets

India’s top-ranked singles player, Prajnesh Gunneswaran was stretched a bit but emerged unscathed in his Tata Open Maharashtra round of 32 clash against German Yannick Maden, winning 7-6(2), 7-6(3).

Prajnesh Gunneswaran seemed comfortable from the get-go, judging the slightly higher bounce on the hard-court surface better than Yannick Maden and used his tall frame to send down winners off seemingly difficult returns.

The 30-year-old broke his opponent’s serve in the eighth game of the first set to go up 5-3 and had a chance to serve for the set. However, Yannick Maden broke him right back and forced a tie-break, which the Indian won 7-4.

The duo did not allow each other many break points in the second set, which meant that the match witnessed another tie-break. Prajnesh Gunneswaran, who had shaken off the wrist injury that affected his forehand, used the shot aplenty throughout the encounter and fittingly finished it off with a thunderous forehand winner down the line.

The 122nd-ranked Prajnesh Gunneswaran will next face South Korea’s Kwon Soon-woo, seeded fourth for the ATP 250 event, in the pre-quarters on February 6.

Arjun Kadhe falls to Jiri Vesely

Local boy Arjun Kadhe did not enjoy a great homecoming at the Tata Open Maharashtra, losing to Czech Republic’s Jiri Vesely 2-6, 4-6 in his round of 32 match earlier in the day.

Arjun Kadhe was broken in the very first game of the match and was always trailing from that point on. Jiri Vesely broke him again in the fifth game and wrapped up the set in hardly 30 minutes.

The Indian competed better in the second set but had given his opponent a lot of momentum which the latter made the most of and eventually won when Arjun Kadhe netted a backhand return.

Jiri Vesely will next face Italian seventh-seed Salvatore Caruso in the pre-quarters on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Arjun Kadhe will be seen in action in the Tata Open Maharashtra doubles event on Wednesday as well. He has teamed up with defending champion, Rohan Bopanna and they will face Frenchmen Antoine Hoang and Benoit Paire in the round of 16 clash.

Sumit Nagal to play doubles

While Sumit Nagal’s singles hopes ended on Monday with a three-set loss to Serbian Viktor Troicki, he could yet win a title as he was fortunately handed a late entry into the doubles event along with Egor Gerasimov of Belarus.

They will replace the German pair of Peter Gojowczyk and Cedrik-Marcel Stebe after the former suffered a hip injury. Sumit Nagal and Egor Gerasimov will play the all-Indian pair of Ramkumar Ramanathan and Purav Raja in the men’s doubles’ round of 16 on Wednesday.

The winner of this tie will play the pair of Leander Paes and Matthew Ebden in the Tata Open Maharashtra quarter-finals.