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Champaign Challenger: Leander Paes and Purav Raja enter the final

The two are looking to win their second title in as many weeks.

FEATURED COLUMNIST
News 18 Nov 2017, 15:35 IST
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leander paes purav raja
The sun is shining for Leander Paes (left) and Purav Raja after weeks of struggle

The Indian men’s doubles team of Leander Paes and Purav Raja continue their rampage on the ATP Challenger circuit as the duo entered the final of the $75, 000 JSM Challenger of Champaign–Urbana in Illinois, USA on Friday. The pair, who has received the top seeding at this tournament, needed 1 hour 10 minutes to dismiss the challenge of the American combine of Christopher Eubanks and Mackenzie McDonald, 6-4, 6-4 in the semi-finals.

In the final on Saturday, they will meet the third seeded South African-British team of Ruan Roelofse and Joe Salisbury. The latter upset the second seeds James Cerretani and John Patrick-Smith with an identical score of 6-4, 6-4 in the other semi-final.

Paes and Raja had 58% of their first serves in and won 74% of their first serve points. They managed to convert three out of their seven break point opportunities and conceded just a solitary service break.

They finished with a total of 61 points in contrast to which, Eubanks and McDonald had to be content with only 51 points.

Paes and Raja on a seven-match winning streak

Paes and Raja are now on a seven-match winning streak having won the Knoxville Challenger just last week. The two joined forces at the Winston Salem Open just before the US Open and struggled initially.

It took them eight tournaments to finally reach a final which they did at Knoxville. Since their win at that tournament, the duo has evidently gained in confidence and has been unstoppable.

In three matches this week, they haven’t dropped any set. They started their campaign with an effortless 6-4, 6-1 win over Alexander Brown and Ezekiel Clark and then notched up a 6-3, 6-1 win over Nathaniel Lammons and Alex Lawson in the quarter-finals.

Leander chasing his fifth title of the season

The ageless Leander, whose ranking has slipped to a lowly 67th, has had a fantastic season on the Challenger circuit. He is now chasing his fifth title in 2017, having triumphed earlier at Leon, Tallahassee, Ilkley, besides the aforementioned Knoxville. The 44-year-old has not lost any Challenger final this season.

The World No. 61 Raja is aiming to lay hands on his third Challenger trophy in 2017. He won at Bordeaux alongside Divij Sharan and suffered defeat at the Chennai Open final before the two parted ways right before the US Open.

Also read: Video: Leander Paes calls Roger Federer one of the biggest pranksters in tennis fraternity

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