PARIS: Even at 41 years of age, Leander Paes continues to break new ground. The Indian ace completed 700 career wins in men’s doubles on Wednesday when he won his first round match at French Open. Paes and Daniel Nestor, seeded 10th, defeated Australians Chris Guccione and James Duckworth 6-2, 5-7, 7-5.
“It’s a special number,” said Paes of his latest achievement. “I normally look at these milestones as motivation to keep going, to keep pushing further and get to 800 now.” He became the eighth doubles player to reach the 700-mark.
Though Paes and Nestor, 42, are immensely experienced, they have had a tough time getting their partnership going. Paes started the season with South Africa’s Raven Klassen while Nestor teamed up with India’s Rohan Bopanna. But since the veterans decided to join forces at the Monte Carlo Open, they had been unable to win a single match.
“It’s been a tough run,” said Paes. “We have won so many Grand Slams, he’s won 12, I have won 15. When we step on the court, we don’t get an easy match. Every player knows what we have accomplished so they come to that match ready, and they come there wanting to play their best. That being said, we go out on the court knowing that every day we have to work hard if we need the necessary results,” said Paes.
“We won the first set comfortably, and bang, straight away in the second set these guys came back and started going for everything.”
Ninth seeds Rohan Bopanna and Romania’s Florin Mergea, beat Serbia’s Filip Krajinovic and Viktor Troicki 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 to book a second round berth.
Top seeds Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis comfortably negotiated their first test, beating Barbora Krejcikova and Julia Georges 6-3, 6-0.
After an incredible run during the US hard court season, where they won the Indian Wells Masters, Miami Masters and Charleston WTA meet, the duo shook off nerves to score a quick win. It is the first time that Sania is starting a Grand Slam ranked No 1 in the world.
“Of course it’s great to be the top ranked player here,” Sania said. “But on the court rankings and seedings rarely matter. We know we are going to be the most hunted team here, so it’s good to start off well.”
Court 8 (7 pm onwards) L Hradecka (CZE)/M Matkowski (POL) vs Y Shvedova (KAZ)/R Bopanna (IND)
Court 11 (7.30 pm onwards)
S Mirza (IND x1)/B Soares (BRA x1) vs AL Groenefeld (GER)/JJ Rojer (NED)
Court 16 (8.30 pm onwards)
M Hingis (SUI x8)/L Paes (IND x8) vs A Kudryavtseva (RUS)/JS Cabal (COL)