:- Abhijit Deshmukh
After playing 29 years, this year will be last season for Paes and is ready for one last roar. Playing his last ATP 250 tournament on Indian soil, the legendary Indian tennis player recieved loud cheer when he walked on the centre court of Pune's Balewadi tennis complex.
Paes paired with Australian Mathew Ebden were up against second seed Indian Divij Sharan and Artem Sitak in first round. Paes was quickessential near the nets and didn't give impression that he is 46 years old. Both Paes and Ebden targeted Divij and didn't allow him to Volley him much which is natural game. Divij serve was broken in second game as the India-Aus duo took a commendable lead of 3-0 in just 14 mins. Divij and Sitak were playing safe and placing the ball in gap but there game was well anticipated by that time. Paes and Ebden took the first set 6-2 in just 24 mins. The second set went to livewire as both pairs held there serve. In Tie-break, Paes used his experience and produce some great reflxing shots near the net. On the final point, Paes served bit wide to which Sitak returned a volley. Ebden was quick and hit a hammer winner to win the match 6-2, 7-6(5) in 1 hour and 25 mins.
After the match, Paes said " When you play doubles, the players like to place safe and Volley up the middle. If you allow them to do that, then the game becomes so easy for them and they start being more aggressive.
So because I understand the angles fairly well, i come up with a short angles and go for the low percentage shots because they're right on top of the net. I throw lobs over their heads, so they had to get off balance. I want to make my opponents to play tennis and move them like athletes.
On partnering with Mathew Ebden of Australia, Paes added " This boy is some special. We've been trying to play together for about five six years and finally we are playing together. He's really special, this is last season for me and I've been working really hard to do well. Our performance was really good today and I've got that magic feeling again, but he is fast. He's a good singles players. Ebden has a big serve he's got quality return, quality volleys. It will be very interesting to see how we develop this little partnership. We're going to play together for a few weeks to see how the partnership goes."
On playing his first match of this year in India, Paes said " The crowd was good and supporting us but i really feel like the crowd needs to grow a lot more. It was a Tuesday night, so it's a bit tougher because people are working on a weekday. Thing will be different on Thursday, Friday and definitely on weekend when the stadium will be packed. I played Davis Cup here in 2017 against New Zealand and the stadium was packed. So I'm looking forward to continuing the roar and making sure the last roar continues. I'm trying to build roar bigger and bigger and hopefully I can do that through the weekend when the stadium will be full."
Paes and Ebden will now play Purav Raja/Ramkumar Ramanthan or Egor Gerasimov/Sumit Nagal.