Chennai: Doubles legend Leander Paes was mighty impressed with the way Divij Sharan and Purav Raja played to knock him out of Chennai Open, considering his impressive past records here.
Delhi’s left-hander Sharan and Mumbai’s Raja subdued Paes and Andre Sa in 67 minutes to storm into the quarterfinals of the Chennai Open last night. Paes, 43, is the most successful player at the Chennai Open, having triumphed six times, the latest being in 2012 with Janko Tipsarevic.
“Today was not a great start but we got to give credit to the other boys. They played very well, specially I thought Divij played so well, his first serve percentage was very big,” Paes said when asked to reflect on the defeat in the season-opener. Paes said Sharan and Raja have improved from when he beat them on the Tour.
“I have played Divij and Purav in St. Petersburg, beat them in straight sets. Today, they had a clear-cut game plan, which was very easy to see after 10 minutes into the match. Divij came out with a big second serve down a breakpoint in the second set.
“They served for the first set, we had them in trouble but they came out of that, they held the game. We got Purav under some pressure… it’s not easy to beat Leander on Chennai courts. Managed to break him but two breaks down (in second set) was too much,” Paes said.
Sharan and Raja had a very successful 2016, winning the Los Cabos ATP trophy, four Challenger titles and broke into the top-70 in doubles. They also have Bogota title (2013) in their kitty. Asked if he sees them developing into a formidable pairing on the Tour, Paes said, “They have good chances to be successful if they stick together since their style is such that it will be difficult to adapt to their game if they had to play with different partners.
“The way they play is very unique, they make a very good combination. There are two ways I look at that. When you see three singles players and a doubles player, then only one guy goes in and hence you are generally looking at the one, who has already played a lot of Davis Cup and has the experience of winning.
“The other is, they are a set team. If you look at them as individual then I wonder the kind of format they play, if they play someone else, how much they can adapt to that. The way they played ‘eye formation’, every single point, the way they played was very specific style of playing. That not every body can adjust to. They compliment each other very well. So can they do well on the Tour, sure they can.