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It was personal for Paes, Bhupathi, Bopanna

Leander Paes of India and his Czech partner Radek Stepanek beat India’s Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna for the doubles tennis title at the Shanghai Masters.

The fourth seeds claimed a 6-7(7-9), 6-3, 10-5 comeback victory over the seventh-seeded Indian duo in yesterday’s grudge match that saw all three protagonists of India’s Olympic selection fiasco engage in on-court battle.


Elated: Leander Paes (left) and Radek Stepanek celebrate after winning the doubles title in Shanghai yesterday. Pic/AFP

Earlier this year, Bhupathi had refused to partner India’s highest ranked player Paes in the men’s doubles event at the London Games citing the fact that he and Bopanna were already a partnership.

Paes eventually went on to play the Games with rookie Vishnu Vardhan, while Bhupathi and Bopanna formed India’s second doubles team. Both teams eventually finished nowhere close to the medals in London. “Today was a bit more of a personal match for us three Indians,” Paes was quoted as saying by ATP website. “Radek came in and he made it fun for me. He relaxed, laughed, joked. Said, ‘stay smooth, relaxed and have a hungry intensity’.”

The Indo-Czech tandem saved four of the five break points they faced and broke their opponents twice to claim victory in one hour and 36 minutes. Paes and Stepanek won 50 percent of points on Bhupathi-Bopanna’s second serve and won 70 percent of their own service points.

Paes and Stepanek, who have already qualified for the ATP World Tour Finals in London, earned 1000 ATP World Tour ranking points and $207,320. Four spots remain at the year-end championships, with Bhupathi and Bopanna bolstering their claim by receiving 600 ranking points. “We’ve had a great year. It started off with a big bang. To do well early in a partnership is something that can happen. But to continue playing well right through the whole year shows the quality of tennis that we play.”

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