Pune, February 4: Legendary Leander Paes marked his arrival at the third edition of Tata Open Mahrashtra with a thumping 6-2, 7-6 (7-5) win over compatriot Divij Sharan in the doubles opening round match at Mhalunge Balewadi Stadium in Pune on Tuesday.

Playing alongside Australian partner Matthew Ebden, eight-time doubles Grand Slam Champion Paes, who is playing his last tournament in India, showed his class during his clinical victory against defending champion and second-seed Sharan, who was playing alongside New Zealand’s Artem Sitak.

Paes and Ebden won 6-2 7-6(5) (Photo – Ranjith Kumar)

“It is a privilege to play in front of the home crowd here in Pune. I hope to see everyone fill the stands on Thursday for my quarter-final match”, Paes said, when asked about how he felt being on court in his last ATP tournament in India. Paes/Ebden will take on the winner of the match between Purav Raja/Ramkumar Ramanathan & Sumit Nagal/Egor Gerasimov in the quarter-final.

Photo – Ranjith Kumar

Earlier, India No. 1 Prajnesh Gunneswaran stamped his authority at home with a sensational straight sets victory against Yannick Maden in the singles opening round match. The Indian star Gunneswaran held his nerves throughout the match as both the sets went into tie-breakers before the Indian wrapped up the hard-fought contest 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (7-5) to begin his campaign on a winning note.   

In the other singles opening round match local boy Arjun Kadhe suffered a straight-set 6-2, 6-4 defeat at the hands of Jiri Vesley. Playing in front of home crowd, Kadhe, who received wild card entry into the main draw, tried to make comeback into the match with some good fight in the second set but it was too late as the 26-year-old Czech player wrapped up the match convincingly.  

Divij Sharan in action (Photo – Ranjith Kumar)

India’s Rohan Bopanna and Sumit Nagal will be key attraction on the third day of the tournament as they will begin their quest for the doubles title on Wednesday. The defending champion Rohan Bopanna, who will partner alongside Kadhe, as the Indian duo will take on French pair of Benoit Paire and Antonie Hoang. While, Nagal and his partner Egor Gerasimov of Belarus will face Indian pair of Ramkumar Ramanathan and Purav Raja in the opening round match.

A focused Leander during the match (Photo – Ranjith Kumar)

Results : 
Prajnesh Gunneswaran (IND) bt Yannick Maden (GER) 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (7-5)
Jiri Vesely (CZE) bt Arjun Kadhe (IND) 6-2, 6-4
Leander Paes/Matthew Ebden bt Divij Sharan/Artem Sitak 6-2, 7-6 (7-5)

Artem Sitak in action (Photo – Ranjith Kumar)
Paes serving (Photo – Ranjith Kumar)
Sharan serving (Photo – Ranjith Kumar)
Paes and Ebden were at their fighting best (Photo – Ranjith Kumar)

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