In a performance that was as emphatic as it was hard-fought, Leander Paes and Vishnu Vardhan combined to notch India’s second successive victory in tennis, defeating Holland’s Robin Haase and Jean-Julien Rojer 7-6, 4-6, 6-2 to move to the second round.
Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna had earlier in the day redeemed themselves in the eyes of India’s supporters by registering India’s first victory of the tennis event in London. By following up that match by putting together a stirring win of their own, Paes and Vardhan have proven that they are a force to reckon with in their own right, and not just a team to feel sorry for.
The first set went with serve, with neither team getting too many opportunities to get a break and open up the set. Once the set went into the tiebreak, however, Paes and Vardhan established their superiority, running through the points to pocket the breaker 7-1. The Indian duo looked solid and consistent with their serve as well as their groundstrokes, and it was no surprise when they continued to hold serve comfortably in the second.
All that changed when the Indians’ serve was broken at 2-2. Haase-Rojer suddenly seemed to have taken control of proceedings, and got within two games of taking the set at 4-3. Paes and Vardhan fought back, evening the set at 4-4, but they were promptly broken again to hand the Netherlands duo the chance to serve for the set. And serve for the set they did, winning the second set 6-4.
Paes and Vardhan regrouped quickly though. They got back in their groove and regained their consistency and attacking mojo, both of which were rewarded when they broke serve early in the third. They then held serve comfortably to consolidate for a seemingly insurmountable 5-2 lead. That’s exactly what it proved to be, as the Indians broke serve one final time to wrap up the surprisingly one-sided third set 6-2.
Paes and Vardhan have had a hard time leading up to the Olympics, and considering the fact that they had never played with each other before, no one gave them much of a chance to go deep in the tournament. With this win, the duo have proven their ability to make an impact. That said, they will need to keep up their fine form if they want to navigate the considerably tougher rounds that are about to come their way. For now though, they can sit back and celebrate, because they’ve earned it.