Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan beat Leander Paes in a face-off between two Indians in the men’s doubles final at the $125, 000 RBC Tennis Championships of Dallas in Texas, USA on Saturday. The fourth seeded pair of Nedunchezhiyan and Christopher Rungkat held their nerves for a 6-4, 3-6, 10-7 win over the top seeds Paes and Joe Salisbury in the final in 1 hour 24 minutes.
This is the left-handed Nedunchezhiyan’s second consecutive win over the evergreen Paes this year. He and Rohan Bopanna had earlier got the better of Paes and Purav Raja in the pre-quarter-finals of the Tata Open Maharashtra.
This is the fifth Challenger title of Nedunchezhiyan’s career and the first for him in the 2018 season. The Indian and the Indonesian reached three finals on the ATP Challenger circuit last year, but failed to make a breakthrough in any of them.
Leander's winning streak ends
As for Paes, his seven-match winning streak came to an end with this loss. The 44-year-old legend had returned to the top 50 this week by dint of winning his 25th Challenger title at Newport Beach last week.
Nedunchezhiyan and Rungkat looked the more comfortable pair of the two right from the start of the final as they secured a solitary break of serve to seal the opener. However, they squandered five break points in the second set while Paes and Salisbury converted both their break points.
The fourth seeds were able to push aside that setback and raised their level in the match tie-break to emerge the winners. Interestingly, they finished with a total of 60 points, one less than what Paes and Salisbury got.
Paes and Salisbury showed exceptional resilience in their first couple of rounds as they saved nine match points. Nedunchezhiyan and Rungkat too dropped a set in each of their first two rounds.
This was the first time in four tournaments this year where Nedunchezhiyan reached the final. He didn’t manage to progress past the quarter-finals in the earlier three.Published 04 Feb 2018, 13:23 IST