Paes: We still have what it takes

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While one of the top-three Indian doubles teams in the Chennai Open fell by the way side, another just about survived a scare.

The disappointment of the first-round exit of Asian Games gold medallists Somdev Devvarman and Sanam Singh was quickly forgotten as Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi eked out a narrow three-set win in a game that stretched well past midnight on Tuesday.

“This one was for Bob,” was what Paes had to say after the game, referring to his late coach Bob Carmichael, who was known for developing a never-say-die attitude in his wards. “Bob always said anyone can win when they are playing good, but wining games on your bad days is what the best teams do,” said Paes after the 3-6 7-6 10-4 win over Stanislas Wawrinka and Franck Dancevic.

“Winning a game when the chips are down is the hallmark of a great side. The Woodies (Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde), (Jacco) Eltingh and (Paul) Haarhuis always used to do that and it was good for Mahesh and me to get this first win in a difficult game,” added Paes.

The match was fraught with controversy right through with Wawrinka going off the boil after an attempted call-challenge was refused by the chair umpire in the sixth game of the first set. The Swiss-Canadian combo was in the lead at that point (4-1), but wanted to challenge a call on Bhupathi’s serve, only to be told they challenged too late.

When asked whether that two-minute argument with the official had any impact on their opponents’ game, Bhupathi shrugged off the matter. “After that spat they got a one-set lead and were 6-6 in the second. So, no, I do not think that had any adverse impact on their game,” he said.

Wawrinka twice went at the body of Bhupathi with thunderous forehands and Paes admitted it was those moments that got them fired up and fuelled their comeback in the game. “He (Wawrinka) made a mistake going after my partner,” said Paes. “That got us all fired up and got the crowd into it as well,” he added.

On a lighter note, Paes was quick to add, “Those two forehands could have done some real damage. Thank god they did not hit Mahesh, though I still don’t know how he missed. He (Mahesh) is a pretty big target.”

In the earlier doubles match on centre court, Somdev and Sanam lost out to the Dutch-American duo Robin Haase and David Martin 7-5 2-6 8-10 in the match tie-breaker. Somdev felt there was not much that he and Sanam did wrong.

“We played quite well out there and the whole match came down to a couple of points. At 7-7 and 8-8 in the final tie-break, we had a couple of chances to go ahead but missed on both occasions. Had we converted those chances, the result would have been different,” he said.

“Haase served well and Martin returned exceptionally, and that is what they do for a living being doubles specialists. They did not miss much and the pressure was on us to get the winners. Eventually, it all came down to just 2-3 points,” added Somdev.

Somdev will be facing qualifier David Goffin in the singles first round in the last Centre Court match on Tuesday and said he is expecting a tricky game. “I have not seen much of him (Goffin), to be honest. He beat two top players in the quali’s and I am expecting a tough game,” he said.
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This post was submitted by Mudit Agrawal.

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