The top Indian tennis stars continue to impress in pre-US Open warm-up events as both Sania Mirza and Leander Paes reached the finals of their respective tournaments on Friday. Both had tough semi-finals but managed to produce their very best under pressure thus giving themselves a huge boost ahead of the US Open scheduled to begin on Monday, August 29.
Women’s doubles World No. 1 Mirza, who is playing alongside Romanian Monica Niculescu at the $761, 000 Connecticut Open in New Haven, USA, fought back from a set down to edge past the Slovenian combine of Andreja Klepac and Katarina Srebotnik, 2-6, 6-3, 10-8. The match lasted 1 hour 21 minutes.
In the final on Saturday, the second seeds will meet the unseeded Ukrainian-Chinese Taipei duo of Kateryna Bondarenko and Chia-Jung Chuang, who upset the top seeds and Wimbledon runners-up Timea Babos and Yaroslava Shvedova, 6-3, 5-7, 10-7.
First ATP Tour-level final for Paes in 2016
For Paes, who is partnering Germany’s Andre Begemann at the $639, 255 ATP Winston-Salem tournament, it was an equally difficult semi-final match against the third seeds Robert Lindstedt and Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi. The wildcard Indo-German duo too came back from a first-set deficit to prevail over the Swedish-Pakistani combine, 1-6, 7-6(5), 10-4 in 1 hour 28 minutes.
In the summit clash, they will face fellow unseeded Spanish-Finnish pair of Guillermo Garcia-Lopez and Henri Kontinen, who toppled the second seeds Mate Pavic and Michael Venus, 7-6(5), 6-3.
For the evergreen Paes, who won the mixed doubles title at the French Open in early June, this is his first final at an ATP Tour-level event in 2016.
The 43-year-old Indian, whose ranking has plummeted to a lowly 72nd, has won two Challenger titles this year, the last of which came one month ago alongside Begemann.
At the Rio Olympics however, he failed to reproduce that form and the Indian pair of Paes and Rohan Bopanna crashed out in the first round to the Polish team of Lukasz Kubot and Marcin Matkowski in straight sets.
The ATP Winston-Salem is Leander’s first tournament since that loss.
As for Sania, she quickly rebounded from a heartbreaking defeat in the mixed doubles bronze medal match at Rio. Last week, she won the title at Cincinnati with Barbora Strycova that also made her the sole owner of the World No. 1 ranking. The 29-year-old carried on that brilliant form to New Haven this week to reach yet another final with a different partner.