Shanghai: Indo-Czech pair of Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek beat the all Indian pairing of Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna to lift the Shanghai Masters men's doubles title here on Sunday. After losing the hard fought first set 6-7, Paes and Stepanek came back strong to win the next two.
It was a hard fought victory for the Indo-Czech duo as they lost the first set in a tie-breaker 6-7. They fought back immediately and were back in the match as thet won the second set 6-3.
And in the deciding set, Leander and Stepanek won it 10-5 and with it won the title.
It was a kind of a grudge match for Paes as both Bhupathi and Bopanna had refused to play with him at the London Olympics. They rebelled and forced AITA to pair them together at the marquee event.
"Today was a bit more of a personal match for us three Indians. Radek came in and he made it fun for me. He relaxed, laughed, joked. Said, 'stay smooth, relaxed and have a hungry intensity'. I come up and make it fun for him and try and take over whenever I can," Paes said.
Paes and Stepanek had joined forces at the start of the season and straight away won the Australian Open. They also won the Miami Masters. Last month they were finalists at the US Open and they came into Shanghai on the back of a runners-up finish at the Japan Open in Tokyo.
"We've had a great year. It started off with a big bang. To do well early in a partnership is something that can happen. But to continue playing well right through the whole year shows the quality of tennis that we play," said Paes.
Paes and Stepanek, who have already qualified for the season-ending World Tour Finals in London, shared a USD 207,320 purse. Four spots remain at the year-end championships, and Bhupathi and Bopanna too have enhanced their their chances by claiming 600 ranking points.
It was 51st tour-level title for the 39-year-old Paes and second in Shanghai.
With inputs from PTI