Veteran Leander Paes, who has announced that 2020 will be his last year in the tennis circuit, got his mixed doubles campaign in the Australian Open off to a fine start, winning his first round match with Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia. Facing the Australian duo of Storm Sanders and Marc Polmans, Paes and his partner advanced to the next round after a hard-fought 6-7, 6-3, 10-6 victory.
After the first set that went into the tiebreak, Paes and Ostapenko roared back in the second set, winning 30 points as against their rivals, who won 21 points. Though they lagged behind in speed (Paes and Ostapenko sent down a fastest serve of 170kmph in the set, while Sanders and Polmans had a fastest serve of 184kmph), they made up for it by a superior first serve. The tie-breaking third set saw the Indian-Latvian pair win 80% of their first serves, and sent down two aces as they wrapped up the game in just under 90 minutes.
They will now face Bethanie Mattek-Sands of USA and Jamie Murray of United Kingdom in the second round, who enter the clash after getting the better of top seeds Marcelo Melo of Brazil and Barbora Srycova of Czechia 3-6, 6-4, 10-7.
Earlier in the day, Rohan Bopanna, partnering Nadiia Kichenok after Sania Morza pulled out due to a calf injury, advanced to the quarters after a straight set 6-4, 7-6 win over USA’s Nicole Melichar and Bruno Soares of Brazil. Originally scheduled to partner Mirza, the Indian switched to playing with her women’s doubles partner Kichenok of Ukraine after the injury hampered her progress in the year’s first Grand Slam.
Bopanna crashed out in the first round of the men’s doubles, losing to the Bryan brothers of America.