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Dallas Challenger: Leander Paes to face Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan in doubles final

236   //    03 Feb 2018, 21:51 IST

2018 Australian Open - Day 6
Winning streak continues for Leander Paes (in blue)

Leander Paes and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan will be squaring off against each other in an interesting men’s doubles final between two Indians at the $125, 000 RBC Tennis Championships of Dallas in Texas, USA on Saturday. The top seeded pair of Paes and Joe Salisbury beat third seeded Americans Austin Krajieck and Jackson Withrow 7-6(3), 6-4 in 1 hour 20 minutes in the first semi-final.

Fourth seeded duo of Nedunchezhiyan and Christopher Rungkat had no problem dismissing the challenge of the unseeded pair of Dennis Novikov and Goncalo Oliveira 6-3, 6-3.

The evergreen Paes, who broke back into the top 50 this week, is on a roll. Last week he and James Cerretani triumphed at the Newport Beach Challenger, which was the 25th Challenger title of the 44-year-old Paes’ illustrious career.

Paes and Salisbury have shown some exceptional resilience and grit this week on their way to the final. They saved five match points in their 4-6, 6-1, 18-16 win over Aliaksandr Bury and Hsien-Yin Peng in the first round and then saved four match points in their 6-3, 2-6, 17-15 quarter-final victory over Ruben Gonzalez and Hunter Reese.

In the semi-finals, Paes-Salisbury and Krajicek-Withrow traded two breaks of serve each in the first set. In the second set, the top seeds earned a solitary break of serve which was enough for the win.

Fourth seeds Nedunchezhiyan and Rungkat too had to fight hard in their first couple of rounds at the Dallas Challenger. They came back from a set down to edge James Cerretani and Ante Pavic 1-6, 7-6(5), 10-7 in the first round. They dropped a set in the quarter-finals before notching up a 6-3, 3-6, 10-4 win over Luke Bambridge and Denis Kudla.

In the semi-finals, the fourth seeds were able to convert three out of their five break point opportunities while Novikov and Oliveira failed to earn any service break.

For the 29-year-old Nedunchezhiyan, this is his first final of the season. He has already faced Leander once in 2018 in the pre-quarter-finals of the Tata Open, where the former emerged victorious in straight sets.

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A freelance journalist based in Kolkata who is a diehard Rafael Nadal fan. She is also extremely passionate about India’s progress in sports and hopes to throw light on India’s unsung sports heroes through her articles. When not screaming her lungs out in support of her favourite sports stars, she can be seen reading, watching movies or immersed in planning her next travel destination!
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