Chandigarh: Playing his first singles match since 2008, Leander Paes produced an inspired show but went down fighting to former French Open champion Sergi Bruguera as his Wave Punjab Marshalls team trailed 0-2 against Mumbai Tennis Masters in the Champions Tennis League here tonight.
Paes, who stepped in for an injured Greg Rusedski, as the 'legend' of the Punjab team, seemed to ride the wave of home crowd support. He fought back from 1-4 down, using the faster courts at the CLTA to his advantage to level 4-4. At deuce, while serving at 4-5, Paes and the Punjab team used the free point rule to take the set into the tie-break.
Though Bruguera seemed handcuffed on the forehand side for most of the single-set match, he seemed much more in control of the rallies in the tie-break and ran away a 5-2 winner in the 'legends' match. Paes and Bruguera had started the evening on a nostalgic note, as they spoke about sharing the podium at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
The Indian had won the bronze while Bruguera went home with a silver. Punjab Marshalls' fell further behind as the pair of Paes and Garbine Muguruza went down 3-6 to Tommy Robredo and Alize Cornet. Mumbai's mixed doubles pair turned in a professional, solid performance, leading from start to finish to put their team in a strong position after two sets.
Chandigarh witnessed a massive turnout for the game after tickets were made free by Marshalls owners Gurpreet Singh Kiki and wife Kudrat Tamber. The players were given a raucous welcome as 'dhols' and whistles echoed in the arena. Punjab and Mumbai had both lost their opening matches to Delhi Dreams.