The grandstands at the KSLTA Stadium were packed with fans holding up placards celebrating Leander Paes’ career and encouraging the 46-year-old legend for the match at hand.
However, numerous service errors, weak returns and a general lack of co-ordination kept Leander Paes and Matthew Ebden on the back foot as they lost 0-6, 3-6.
As a result, despite the all-Indian duo winning their home event, there was no cheer afterwards quite as loud as the ones that were heard during the few occasions Leander Paes’ side won a game during the match.
A one-sided home affair
The opening set saw Ramkumar Ramanathan and Purav Raja exert complete domination over Leander Paes and Matthew Ebden.
Ramanathan’s service game was on point, while Raja’s powerful returns kept Leander Paes and Matthew Ebden guessing.
Forcing a break in all three of their opponents’ serves, Ramkumar Ramanathan and Purav Raja won the set 6-0.
The second set saw more of the same until a well-timed drop shot from Leander Paes eventually won the Indo-Australian duo their first game of the evening. Matthew Ebden too seemed more awake than before by this point, scoring an ace in the penultimate game.
However, lack of co-ordination held them back from truly taking the match to their opponents before yet another stellar service game from Ramanathan wrapped up the match for his side.
The all-Indian duo of Ramanathan-Raja winning the Bengaluru Tennis Open was actually a perfect ending but on this night, everyone in attendance seemed to be hoping for a Leander Paes victory.
Even Purav Raja backed up the sentiment, calling the win ‘bittersweet’ in his post-match interview.
What’s next for Leander Paes?
Leander Paes’ next stop on his ‘The Last Roar’ farewell tour will be at the Dubai Tennis Championships.
“Dubai, where I have always enjoyed great support from the Indian diaspora, will certainly be one of my last stops,” the 46-year-old told Gulf News.
Along with Leander Paes, fellow Indian tennis legend Sania Mirza was spotted practising at the venue and is also be expected to play in Dubai.
The Dubai Tennis Championships are scheduled to be held from February 17-29.