Leander Paes-Ramkumar Ramanathan lose to unfancied duo in Pune Challenger

Leander Paes-Ramkumar Ramanathan lose to unfancied duo in Pune Challenger

In a major upset at the KPIT-MSLTA ATP Challenger in Pune on Thursday, second seeds Leander Paes and Ramkumar Ramanathan crashed out of doubles, losing 6-2, 3-6, 4-10 to the unseeded French-Swiss pair of Hugo Nys and Luca Margaroli.

The Indians did well to sweep the first set, breaking Margaroli in the first game. Ramkumar’s down-the- line returns coupled with Leander’s drop shots had things going in their favour. The French-Swiss pair was broken again in the fifth game with Margaroli failing to hold serve again.

The second set started with both teams holding serve, but in the third game Margaroli shook off the blues and the pair seemed to shift gears. The rhythm caught the Indian pair off-guard and Paes, playing in a Challenger in India for the first time in 19 years, lost serve. The Indians pulled one back when they broke Nys in the fifth game but Paes was broken again in the penultimate game of the second set, letting Nys serve for the set.

“We lost out on a couple of points. We had a break point in the first game of the second set, but couldn’t capitalise and that’s where the momentum shifted,” said Paes, adding it was difficult to console his younger partner who broke his racquet in frustration.

With the momentum shifting, Ramanathan showed his inexperience as the French-Swiss pair targeted him in the match tiebreaker. The second seeds could only grab a single point off the first seven before losing 4-10. The winners will now face Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan and N Vijay Sundar Prashanth in the semi-final.

“Ram returned some excellent shots, including the one that earned us the break point. But then, he missed a few and tried going for safer shots. That, apart from shifting the game’s momentum, shifted the mentality within the court. They started isolating him on returns and that’s where he lost out,” said Paes.

Earlier in the day, top seeds Purav Raja and Divij Sharan won against the unseeded Dmitry Popko and Marat Deviatiarov in straight sets.

In singles, Saketh Myneni bowed out to eighth seed Prajnesh Gunneswaran 7-6, 2-6, 0-6, who will face second seed Duckhee Lee of Korea.