In his last professional tournament in India, Leander Paes, partnering with Aussie Matt Ebden, made it to the semi-final of the ATP Bengaluru Challenger, beating the Swedish/Indonesian pairing of Goransson and Rungkat 7-5 0-6 10-7. Goransson/Rungkat had won the doubles title at the ATP 250 Tata Open Maharashtra last week. Leander’s last year on tour has been called the #OneLastRoar year.

Paes/Ebden take on last week’s finalists team of Elrich/Vasilevski next on Friday at 6.30 PM at Cubbon Park, Bengaluru. Entry is free.

Excerpt from Leander and Ebden’s post match interview –

Q) You played a very good first set. What happened in the 2nd set?

Paes – In fact, even if you look at the first set, both those boys were returning unbelievably well. If you look at the deuce side, Goransson was hitting backhand return winners at will. We got broken, but we broke back. And if you look at the margins, it was happening on deuce points. In modern doubles, the margins are very less, with the kind of scoring system in place.

So we lost three deuce points in the 2nd set, and that kind of changed the complexion of the 2nd set. But that’s how modern doubles goes. The momentum was with them throughout the 2nd set and the beginning of the super tiebreak, where they were up 2-0 as well. But I am glad that with the help of this thorough professional sitting beside me(Ebden), we were able to change the course of the match.

Huge crowds have been welcoming Leander in Bangalore

Q) In the super tiebreak, we saw you pumping up the crowd. How important is the crowd support for you?

Ebden – In the set change, I told Lee that we have the crowd on our side. So let’s stay positive from start to finish, and bring the crowd into play even before the tiebreak starts. So we went around the baseline and started jumping up and down a little bit, which got the crowd going. 

Q) At the start of the tiebreak, you missed two forehands. Then Leander took over. But what was going through your mind when you missed those two forehands?

Ebden – The first point was on my serve. I think we had a good play, but the other guy made a lucky shot somehow. I don’t mind Lee in the middle of the court, using his great hands. Even though we lost those two points, we won quite a lot of them later on in the tiebreak. We won a few key points where Leander was everywhere. I was running around, so you got to lose some points as well. I would have probably made those 9/10, so it was a bad time to miss. But we keep pulling each other up as a team, so I don’t regret it as much. 

Paes has been a huge hit among the kids at the KSLTA

Q) You’re into the semifinals. Do you fancy your chances to get the title?

Paes – Sport is awesome that way. It’s amazing how you have to create the momentum. They will be doubters your whole life, but have got to stick it out. Today, we beat the champions of an ATP 250 event from last week. I think that’s pretty cool! I don’t care how many forehands or volleys we missed, how many things we could have done differently. So we are kind of roaring pretty loud at the moment. That feels pretty good.

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