Paes-Ebden battle into semis

Paes-Ebden battle into semis

Leander Paes did say he has a vast array of tricks up his sleeve under pressure. And on Thursday at the KSLTA, he had to dig deep into his repertoire to ensure his quest for the Bengaluru Open Challenger stayed alive.

In the match tie-break, down 0-2 and having conceded the second set 0-6, the 46-year-old took over. With a near flawless show, the veteran brought his team back. He landed strong serves, found pockets of space and angles to sneak in three volleys and hit an overhand winner - possibly the most technical shot of the tournament - with precision.

Paes, combining with Australian Matthew Ebden, clinched a 7-5, 0-6, 10-7 win over third seed and Maharashtra Open champions Andre Goransson of Sweden and Christopher Rungkat of Indonesia to march into the semifinal. 

The first set saw Paes and Eben claw back twice to level the breaks. While the Indo-Aussie duo had five chances to break, they struggled to convert. But once again, when put under pressure, they rose by winning the break point and the set in the 12th game, set up by a delightful lob by Ebden. The second set, however, saw the other side of the coin as the duo failed to win a single game. With momentum lost, Paes - during the break before the tie-break - practiced his serves. And soon put them to work for the winning cause.

“The margins in the first set were on deuce points. And in the second, we lost three deuce points. That’s just the way it happens. But we kept finding solutions and that’s why we won today. We’re kind of roaring pretty loud at the moment,” said a delighted Paes.

Meanwhile, in the singles event, it was curtains for India’s challenge as six players ended on the wrong side of the result.

Seventh seed Prajnesh Gunneswaran had a wretched outing against unseeded Benjamin Bonzi of France as he fell 6-7 (5), 0-6. Eighth-seed Sumit Nagal lost the first five games and never looked like coming back as he lost to 11th seed Blaz Rola of Slovenia 3-6, 3-6. 

Wildcard Niki Poonacha was a break-up in the first set against third seed Yuichi Sugita before an abdominal injury saw him drop his level and fall 5-7, 3-6 to the Japanese. Saketh Myneni went down to Thomas Fabbiano of Italy 4-6, 7-5, 2-6. 

Results: Singles: Pre-quarterfinals: 9-Thomas Fabbiano (Ita) bt Saketh Myneni (Ind) 6-4, 5-7, 6-2; 13-Ilya Ivashka (Blr) bt 17-Ramkumar Ramanathan (Ind) 7-6(2), 6-1; 11-Blaz Rola (Slo) bt 8-Sumit Nagal (Ind) 6-3, 6-3; 7-Benjamin Bonzi (Fra) bt 7-Prajnesh Gunneswaran (Ind) 7-6 (5), 6-0; 3-Yuichi Sugita (Jpn) bt WC-Niki Poonacha (Ind) 7-5, 6-3; 2-Stefano Travaglia (Ita) bt 14-Mohamed Safwat (Egy) 6-2, 7-6(5); 4-James Duckworth (Aus) vs Frederico Ferreira Silva (Por) 7-6 (9), 6-1; Julian Ocleppo (Ita) bt Sidharth Rawat (Ind) 7-5, 6-4.

Doubles: Quarterfinals: Saketh Myneni (Ind)/ Matt Reid (Aus) bt 1-Cheng-Peng Hsieh (Tpe)/ Denys Molchanov (Ukr) 3-6, 6-4, 10-8; Matthew Ebden (Aus)/ Leander Paes (Ind) bt 3-Andre Goransson (Swe)/Christopher Rungkat (Ina) 7-5, 0-6, 10-7; 4-Purav Raja (Ind)/ Ramkumar Ramanathan (Ind) bt Frederico Ferreira Silva (Por)/ Nikola Milojevic (Srb) 6-4, 6-4; 2-Jonathan Erlich (Isr)/ Andrei Vasilevski (Blr) bt Lucas Rosol (Cze)/ Yuichi Sugita (Jpn) 6-3, 3-6, 10-5.

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