Paes-Raja win second Challenger in a row

November 20, 2017

First title for Paes-Raja duo at Knoxville Challenger


PUNE: Leander Paes and Purav Raja won their second successive ATP Challenger title as they triumphed in the $75,000 event in Champaign, Illinois, in the US on Saturday.

Top seeds Paes and Raja defeated South African Ruan Roelofse and Joe Salisbury of Britain, the third seeds, 6-3, 6-7 (5), 10-5 in the final of the hard-court event.

“We served for the match at 6-3, 5-4 but got broken and lost a crucial second set breaker. But we came back strong in the super tiebreak,” Raja said.

The Indian pair earned 80 points and $2,325 for the second week in a row, having won a similar title in Knoxville, US, last week. It is Raja’s 13th Challenger success and for the 44-year-old Paes, his 23rd title in Challengers.

“It’s been coming since US open and it is great to learn new things along the way,” the 31-year-old Raja said of playing with Paes.

“With Leander, I have the experience of someone who has played at the very highest level. The way he approached big points with clarity of thought and freedom was good.”

It’s the last tournament of the season for the duo and the Mumbaikar confirmed the two will renew their pairing in 2018. And he hoped to begin the season with the Maharashtra Open.

“Yes, we will play the start of the year together and hopefully the wind continues to go forward. We need to get in (for Pune event) and Doha and Brisbane (ATP Tour events) are also there that week. It will be cool to play at home,” he said.

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