What's the story?
Indian tennis ace Leander Paes and his partner Mathew Ebden have moved into the quarterfinals of the men's doubles event at the Dubai Tennis Championships. But Prajnesh Gunneswaran lost his first-round match to crash out of the men's singles event.
In case you didn't know
The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships 2020 is being staged in Dubai from 17th February to 29th February. This year's edition started with the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) Premier 5 level women’s tournament which concluded on 22nd February. The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) 500 men’s tournament comprising of the men's singles and men's doubles events is now in progress with the finals scheduled on 29th February.
India's Leander Paes, who has already announced that this would be his last year on the ATP tour, was given a wildcard for the men's doubles event. Prajnesh Gunneswaran was also given a wildcard for the men's singles event.
Heart of the matter
Indian tennis legend Leander Paes and his Australian partner Mathew Ebden have moved into the quarterfinals of the men's doubles event at the Dubai Tennis Championships. They caused a major upset by knocking out the second seeds Ivan Dodig of Croatia and Filip Polasek of Slovakia in the pre-quarterfinal encounter.
They won the match pretty convincingly with the scoreline reading 6-4, 6-3. The Paes-Ebden duo started off well by breaking their opponents' serve in the 3rd game of the first set but they were broken back in the very next game. The Indo-Aussie pair broke serve again in the 9th game and then held their serve to close out the set 6-4.
The second set started with both the pairs holding their serves in the first 6 games. Paes and Ebden struck in the 7th game by breaking serve on the deciding point after the game had gone to deuce. This service break seemed to have taken the fight out of Dodig and Polasek as they were broken again in the 9th game while serving to stay in the match and lost the set 6-3 and with it the match.
But there was heartbreak for Prajnesh Gunneswaran, India's top-ranked singles player, as he lost his first round singles match to Dennis Novak of Austria. Prajnesh, who was given a wildcard for the tournament, lost to the Austrian qualifier 4-6, 3-6.
The Indian started off on a bright note by breaking his opponent's serve in the 3rd game of the first set but was broken right back. Prajnesh was broken again in the 10th game while serving to stay in the set, thereby losing the set 4-6.
In the second set, it was the Austrian's turn to break serve first in the 4th game but he was also broken right back. But the Indian lost his serve again in the 8th game allowing the Austrian to close out the match by holding his serve in the 9th and final game.
Leander Paes and Mathew Ebden would be up against Henri Kontinen of Finland and Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany in their quarterfinal encounter. The German-Finn pair have come through the qualifiers after having knocked out India's Rohan Bopanna and his partner Pablo Carreno Busta in the finals of the qualification round.
Leander would be hoping to continue his good run and give the Dubai crowd lots of happy memories in his final tournament in Dubai. The win against Dodig would have given him a lot of confidence and would hold him in good stead as he is likely to face him in the Davis Cup doubles encounter next week.
Prajnesh, who would also be representing India in the Davis Cup encounter against Croatia, would be looking to up his game at the Davis Cup and help India in progressing to the World Group of the multi-nation tournament.