Leander Paes-Purav Raja cruise into Australian Open

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(Online Desk)

Indian tennis ace Leander Paes and Purav Raja clinched a nail-biting thriller against number five seeds Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares in the second round of Australian Open.

The Indian pair won a physically-draining contest that lasted nearly three hours. The 18-time Grand Slam champion Paes along with Raja put in all their experience to overcome the seasoned pair of Murray and Soares in three sets with the score line 7-6(3), 5-7, 7-6(6).

During the match, the Indian duo had won 78 per cent of their first serve points and converted two of their 17 break points.

Paes and Raja will now take on eleventh-seeded Colombian duo of Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah for a place in the quarterfinals.

In a recent interview with The New Indian Express, Leander Paes had said,” I think it’s going to be a very interesting year. At the back end of last season, we (Purav Raja, his new partner, and him) went two weeks unbeaten. We did that after three months of hard work. Now, we have to catch our rhythm and carry on. Goals wise, I would say to get into the top 30 as individuals. To get a direct entry into the 500s and Masters you have to be in that bracket. It’s also because doubles has changed. Many of the top 20-30 singles players have started playing doubles. The no-ad scoring has helped and the super-breaker to decide the third set has also shortened matches.”

When asked his reason behind teaming up with Purav Raja, the former world number one said, “For a couple of years, he had asked to play with me. We had played together in a Davis Cup tie against South Korea in Delhi and we did well. He has been my sparring partner in Mumbai for a few years. We had gone back and forth (dialogue about playing with each other) for a few years. It’s natural because he’s an ad court player and I am a deuce court player. We are both Indians and we practice together in the off-season.”

Yesterday, Divij Sharan equalled his best Grand Slam performance by reaching the men’s doubles third round at the Australian Open, while Rohan Bopanna also entered the pre-quarterfinals with his partner.

Sharan and American Ram faced stiff resistance from Fabio Fognini and Marcel Granollers before winning 4-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 in the second round which lasted for two hours and eight minutes.

Also making progress was the 10th seeded Indo-French team of Bopanna and Edouard Roger-Vasselin, who knocked out Portugal’s Joao Sousa and Leonardo Mayer of Argentina 6-2 7-6 (3).

They are now up against seventh seeds Mate Pavic of Croatia and Austria’s Oliver Marach who edged out Artem Sitak and Wesley Koolhof 6-7 (5) 6-4 6-4.

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