A high-five for Paes-Bhupathi in Chennai
Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi capped a glorious reunion on Sunday by winning their fifth Chennai Open doubles title.
In a thrilling final, the top seeded Indian pair shrugged off a late charge to beat the unseeded Dutch-American combination of Robin Haase and David Martin 6-2, 6-7 (3), 10-7 to win their 24th title (in their 34th final) together.
The triumph, in front of a vociferous capacity crowd, was their first in Chennai in nine years. The duo had won three straight titles between 1997 and 1999 and added to their collection in 2002.
"What is important is that we won," said Bhupathi, in the post-match conference.
Paes did the elaboration bit.
"The level of tennis improved remarkably in the second set. We had no break points in that having broken them twice in the first," explained Paes, adding, "That showed how much they improved their game.
"We had to change our thought process and go back to teamwork to ensure the match went in our favour."
Image: Paes and Bhupathi with the Chennai Open trophy
'Indian Express' pair's first ATP title in seven years
It was the famed Indian Express pair's first ATP title in seven years -- they last triumphed at the Toronto Masters in 2004. The duo had not featured in a final after their loss at 's-Hertogenbosch in 2008.
Sunday's win also served their basic purpose, as a perfect preparation for the year's first major - the Australian Open. Neither Paes nor Bhupathi have won the men's doubles title at Melbourne thus far in their careers.
The Indian Express, like they had done a day earlier, spared no effort in making, what seemed a dull match to start with, finish as a nerve-wracking finale.
The theatrics was there, so were the trademark chest-bumps -- this time on more occasions than one. However, what was lacking was the body language and athleticism that the duo (particularly Leander) is known for.
The manner in which they failed to retrieve certain balls, that they would have easily done a few years, is a clear indicator that the duo is racing against time.
As regards their opponent in the final, they were more than a match.
Image: Paes and Bhupathi in action
Dutch-American duo denied personal hat-trick
The Dutch-American duo, having joined forces for the first time, had accounted for two Indian pairs (one-and-a-half to be precise) in the previous rounds of the tournament.
The had got the better of Guangzhou Asiad gold medallists Somdev Devvarman and Sanam Singh in the opening round and had then ensured the exit of the Indo-Pak Express -- Rohan Bopanna and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi -- in the quarter-finals.
On Sunday, they looked good to complete a personal hat-trick.
However, nerves as also the pressure of playing their first final in front of a partisan crowd, got the better of them in the final analysis.
Having lost the opening set in a jiffy -- Haase got broken in the second game and Martin in the eighth, the unseeded pair mounted a remarkable comeback to win the second set tie-break.
Having carried the momentum forward early in the super tie-break (they led 4-1), the duo lost the plot when it mattered the most.
Perhaps it was their inexperience that made them suffer. Perhaps it was the extremely partisan crowd that played a role in breaking their concentration.
Perhaps the reputation of their opponents eventually got the better of them.
Whatever may have been the case, their failure ensured the Indian fans had a memorable evening.
Image: Paes-Bhupathi and runners-up Robin Haase and David Martin
Wawrinka's third ATP Tour title
Stanislas Wawrinka was not supposed to play at the Chennai Open this year. However, following a change of schedule (and desire), the Swiss requested for and obtained a wild card for the event.
What more, he came in to Chennai four days in advance to begin his preparations for the same.
It proved to be a good decision in the final analysis.
A year after being ripped apart by Marin Cilic in the final, Wawrinka returned a stronger man. And having made it to the decider for the second year running, the third seed made sure on this occasion the trophy became his.
A 7-5, 4-6, 6-1 win over Belgian Xavier Malisse on Sunday ensured the Wawrinka his third ATP Tour title (in nine finals). It was also the Swiss player's first title on a surface other than clay his first couple of titles coming at Umag and Casablanca.
"It was a perfect week," quipped the winner in the post-match conference, adding, "The first few matches were tough.
"However, I improved during the course of the week. The win today will give me a lot of confidence going into the Australian Open"
Wawrinka's win ensured twin success for Switzerland on the tour this week -- with Roger Federer having won the title in Doha on Saturday.
Image: Stanislas Wawrinka with the Chennai Open trophy
Malisse's ninth loss in 12 title deciders
Malisse's loss further dented his record in ATP finals, the Belgian has now lost nine of his 12 title deciders.
It was for the second time in the history of the tournament -- after Ivan Ljubicic's win in 2006 -- that a wild card went on to win the tournament.
It was also for the first time since 2005 -- when Carlos Moya beat Paradorn Srichaphan for his second title -- that the final in Chennai had gone the distance (three sets).
Image: Wawrinka and Xavier Malisse