Indian tennis has had a good start to the year.
Leander Paes, Rohan Bopanna and Sania Mirza all won in respective doubles tournaments yesterday. That will add to their confidence heading into the Australian Open, the first grand slam of the year.
India's Leander Paes and his South African partner Raven Klaasen, seeded fourth, beat Dominic Inglot and Florin Mergea to win the Heineken Open men's doubles title in Auckland on Saturday. They beat the British-Romanian pairing 7-6 (1), 6-4 at the $519,395 hard court event for their first title this year.
Both teams were poor with their breakpoints conversion in the first set, after holding serve. They failed to grasp their chances and in the end it had to be decided in the tie-break. The second set was again a close affair but Paes and Klaasen managed to convert two breakpoint opportunities out of five to take home the title. Paes was India's number 1 singles player, and even beat the great Pete Sampras in an Olympic match before moving into doubles full time in the late 90s. He has won 55 titles, including mixed doubles, and all four grand slams.
Also in Australia, third seeded Indo-Canadian pair of Rohan Bopanna and Daniel Nestor won the Sydney International tennis tournament, defeating the second seeded team of Dutchman Jean-Julien Rojer and Romanian Horia Tecau 6-4, 7-6 (5). "We beat some pretty good teams here (in Sydney) so we're playing well. Hopefully we can carry it on to the Australian Open," said Nestor.
In the same tournament, India's Sania Mirza won her first title of the season and 23rd of her career when she and Bethanie Mattek-Sands shocked top-seeded Americans Abigail Spears and Raquel Kops-Jones in the final of the women's doubles. Unlike the men's game, this was a one-sided affair. The unseeded Indo-American combine humbled the top seeds 6-3, 6-3 in just 69 minutes. This was a major win for the pair, who will now be watched more closely at the Australian Open.
Yuki Bhambri qualified for the main draw in the tournament, the lone Indian players in singles, and will face Andy Murray in the first game. Murray will probably win and use this game as a warm-up for tougher matches, but the qualification itself is an achievement for Bhambri, who is ranked 317 in the world.
Reactions from fans on Twitter poured in. Paes and Mirza also posted pictures from the match.
Partner number #99,title number #55..25 years on tour,writing ur name in the history books is what it's all about 🏆🎾 pic.twitter.com/fprANOVfxM
— Leander Paes (@Leander) January 17, 2015
— Sania Mirza (@MirzaSania) January 16, 2015
Just had a lovely chat with old friend @Leander. 55 titles now on the tour and 99 partners.... best start to the year for any doubles team
— Digvijay Singh Deo (@Diggy_SinghDeo) January 17, 2015
— IndianTennis Fan (@IndiantennisFan) January 17, 2015
(With inputs from agencies)