A week ahead of Rio Olympics 2016, India’s evergreen tennis hero Leander Paes received a huge boost to his Olympic medal ambitions by winning the Thindown Challenger title on clay in Biella, Italy on Saturday. The Indo-German pair, seeded third, upset the top-seeded Slovakian-Chilean duo of Andrej Martin and Hans Podlipnik-Castillo, 6-4, 6-4. The summit clash lasted 1 hour 13 minutes.
This is Leander’s second Challenger title of the year after he and Sam Groth reigned supreme at the Busan Challenger on hardcourts back in May. Overall, this is the 19th victory at this level for the 18-time Grand Slam champion.
In the final, Paes and Begemann broke their opponents twice, once in each set, that rewarded them the win. The top seeds did have a few opportunities of their own but the Indo-German duo saved all four break points to deny them any chance for a comeback.
Earlier on Friday, they had upset the second seeds James Cerretani and Philipp Oswald 6-3, 6-4 in the semi-finals.
This is Paes’ first title triumph since capturing the French Open mixed doubles title in early June that completed his Career Slam in that category. In between, he teamed up with Rohan Bopanna to guide India to a 4-1 win over South Korea in the Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Group I second round clash.
He will now head to the USA to play World Team Tennis before making his record seventh appearance at the Olympic Games.