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Indian tennis roundup: Paes and Reyes-Varela upset top seeds at St Petersburg; Ramanathan progresses in Kaohsiung Challenger

FEATURED COLUMNIST
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174   //    20 Sep 2018, 14:24 IST

L
Leander Paes: Still going strong at 45

India’s evergreen tennis ace Leander Paes made a thunderous start to his title campaign at the St Petersburg Open as he and Mexico’s Miguel Angel Reyes-Varela upset the top seeds Dominic Inglot and Franko Skugor in the first round of this ATP 250 tournament on Wednesday. Paes and Reyes-Varela needed 1 hour 37 minutes to pull off a tight 7-6(5), 7-6(5) win over the British-Croatian pair on their way to the quarter-finals.

The Indo-Mexican combine will next take on the all-Italian duo of Fabio Fognini and Matteo Berrettini for a place in the semi-finals. The latter edged Andrey Rublev and Denis Shapovalov 2-6, 6-2, 10-5.

Inglot and Skugor produced seven aces and converted both the break points they got. In contrast, Paes and Reyes-Varela could only convert two out of their six break points, earning just 33% success. But they managed to hold their nerves and lift their games in the tie-breaks in both the sets.

The 45-year-old Paes, who has been having an inconsistent season, is now down to 69th in the ATP World Rankings. He has won just one Challenger title this year and has been the runner-up in two others. On the ATP World Tour too, he has made it to the finals of the Dubai Open and the Winston-Salem Open, but a title has eluded him.

While Leander made waves in Russia, Indians had mixed results in Challenger events on Wednesday.

Ramkumar Ramanathan lived up to his sixth seeding when he made it past Maximilian Neuchrist 6-4, 6-2 in the first round of the Kaohsiung Challenger. But eighth seed Prajnesh Gunneswaran failed to cross the first hurdle and went down 3-6, 7-5, 3-6 to World No. 248 Jurij Rodionov in 1 hour 45 minutes.

They were the two Indians playing in the singles draw at this prestigious Challenger event.

In doubles, the top seeded pair of Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan and Austin Krajicek emerged 6-4, 7-6(6) winners over Tristan Lamasine and Hiroki Moriya to enter the quarter-finals. Second seeds Vishnu Vardhan and N Sriram Balaji too progressed easily, courtesy of a 6-1, 7-5 win over Yuichi Sugita and Chu-Huan Yi.

N Vijay Sundar Prashanth and Ramanthan, however bowed out with a 4-6, 4-6 loss to the Chinese Taipei pair of Cheng-Peng Hsieh and Tsung-Hua Yang.

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FEATURED COLUMNIST
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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