Leander Paes and Rohan Bopanna made a winning start to their Rio Games’ campaign by winning their doubles rubber in the Indo-South Korean Group I semi-final tie. Paes and Bopanna defeated the Korean team of Hong Chung and Seong Chan Kong in straight sets in a regulation straight-setter 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 that not only gave India an unbeatable 3-0 lead in the tie, but also essentially pushed India into the World Group play-offs that will be played from 16th to 18th September, later this year.
For Paes however there was another reason to be proud of. With his win, the 43-year old had tied Italian tennis legend Nicola Pietrangeli’s record of most number of wins in Davis Cup doubles rubbers.
Both Paes and Pietrangeli have won 42 Davis Cup doubles rubbers each.
But the Italian’s winning percent is about 63%, with 42 wins in 66 ties he’d played. Paes is substantially higher at around 78% with 42 wins in 53 ties he’s played. Paes made his debut in the Indian Davis Cup team in 1990 as a 16-year old.
It was a successful debut as he paired with Zeeshan Ali in doubles to defeat the Japanese team of Shuzo Matsuoka and Shigeru Ota in five sets in the first round of the Group I tie. Incidentally his debut came at the same venue that’s hosting the ongoing Indo-Korean tie, the Chandigarh Stadium in the Northern Indian city of Chandigarh.
With there being raised a furore about Bopanna’s initial disinclination to team up with Paes for the Rio Games and the duo’s subsequent team-up, this win is sure to boost the Indian contingent’s morale for the Rio Olympics, an event where Paes will be marking yet another record – of playing seven consecutive Olympics.
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