The 46-year-old Indian and Matthew Ebden were no match for the pair of Purav Raja and Ramkumar Ramanathan, losing in straight sets.
Indian tennis veteran, Leander Paes’ first home tournament in his final season did not quite go to plan as, along with Australian partner Matthew Ebden, he was beaten by the all-Indian pair of Purav Raja and Ramkumar Ramanathan 2-6, 1-6 in their quarter-final encounter at the Tata Open Maharashtra.
Leander Paes was at his best again at the net initially, moving around effortlessly but neither he nor Matthew Ebden could conjure up regular winners. They were broken in their first two service games to allow Purav Raja and Ramkumar Ramanathan, the latter chalking up the bulk of the winners, to go up 5-1 which soon became 6-3 as the set was wrapped up in around 30 minutes.
The second set also started poorly for Leander Paes and Matthew Ebden as they conceded their first two service games yet again. The experienced pair never grew into the match, netting returns or sending them wide.
Ramkumar Ramanathan was especially flawless with his serves, keeping his opponents guessing and when they did manage to return it, his loopy forehands and ability to pick out precise gaps won them the points.
The match ended with Leander Paes’ serve being broken yet another time but this time it was Purav Raja who hit a forehand winner down the middle to seal the tie.
India’s singles hope fizzled out at the Tata Open Maharashtra earlier on Thursday after Prajnesh Gunneswaran lost 3-6, 6-7(2) to South Korea’s Kwon Soon-wo.
The top-ranked Indian player on the ATP tour, Prajnesh Gunneswaran started very well, breaking Kwon Soon-wo’s serve in the very first game of the match but the latter broke him right back in the next game to even things out.
Prajnesh Gunneswaran then ran out of gas as he was broken again in the sixth game of the first set and allowed Kwon Soon-wo to wrap it up soon. However, the second set saw the Indian hold his own.
The 30-year-old did miss a couple of break points but looked the more likely of the two to win the set in the latter stages. If it was his forehands that were on fire the other night, Prajnesh Gunneswaran’s powerful backhands were the highlight on Thursday.
The tie-break in the second set saw some clean ball-striking from both players but the Indian just did not have the edge, sending some of his returns wide. He did save a match-point on Kwon Soon-wo’s serve and almost retrieved another but the latter’s quick reflexes enabled him to finish off the tie with an easy winner at the net.
Kwon Soon-wo will now face Belarusian eighth-seed, Egor Gerasimov in the quarter-finals of the Tata Open Maharashtra. The latter had a rough ride himself as he came back a set down to win 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 against Nikola Milojevic.
Purav Raja and Ramkumar Ramanathan, now the only remaining Indian interest at the Tata Open Maharashtra, will next face the Israeli-Belarusian pair of Jonathan Erlich and Andrei Vasilevski in the semi-finals after the latter came back from a set down to win 5-7, 6-1, 10-8 against Italians Stefano Travaglia and Paolo Lorenzi.
The Tata Open Maharashtra is broadcast on Star Sports Select HD 2 and streamed live on Jio TV and Hotstar. The centre court matches will also be streamed through Facebook Live although the social media feed will be restricted to the Indian subcontinent.