Top seeds Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi rolled back the years as they rallied brilliantly to overcome the Canadian-Swiss combo of Frank Dancevic and Stanislas Wawrinka 3-6, 7-6 (8), 10-4 to enter the doubles second round in the Aircel ATP Chennai Open tennis tournament in Chennai in the wee hours of Tuesday.
Coming together on the pro tour for the first time in nine years, Paes, 37 and Bhupathi, 36, winners here four times, the last being in 2002, held their nerves while displaying some of their old magic to turn around a match that nearly got out of hand and win the one hour, 34-minute match that ended at 1.15am.
Though Dancevic and Wawrinka possessed awesome power, especially in their serves, the delicate skills, beside the vast experience of the Indian pair eventually made the difference.
The decisive moments came in the second set tie-breaker when Dancevic's first serve deserted him while the Indians, trailing 2-5, raised their game with a touch of magic to push the match into the decider.
The pumped Indian pair, backed by vociferous crowd, then moved in for the kill with a series of classy volleys and well-placed aces to take the third set with a measure of comfort.
Bhupathi and Paes, winners of three Grand Slam titles as a combination, enacted some of the old scenes of chest thumping that began late in the third set when they jumped to a 7-1 lead and then again when on match point at 9-4. A netted service return by Wawrinka on Paes' serve earned the Indians the decisive point.
Earlier, the much-hyped Indian pair of Somdev Devvarman and Sanam Singh, the doubles gold medalists at the Asian Games last year, flattered to deceive, losing in three sets to the Dutch-US combination of Robin Haase and David Goffin.
The Indians, who received a wild card entry, took a close first set, but were blown off the court in the second. The decider witnessed some sparkle from the Indian pair, but Haase and Goffin eventually prevailed after 83 minutes 5-7, 6-2, 10-8.
In a late night singles first round match, sixth seed and Serbian Davis Cupper Janko Tipsarevic overcame a shaky start when he was down three break points in the very first game of the opening set, to outclass a wayward Argentine Eduardo Schwank 6-3, 6-4, in just 79 minutes.
Two breaks of serve, one in each set, saw Tipsarevic, a semi-finalist here last year, winning in a canter while Schwank became a victim of his own inconsistency.
Doubles (1st round): Robin Haase (NED) / David Goffin (US) bt WC-Somdev Devvarman / Sanam Singh (IND) 5-7, 6-2, 10-8; 1-Leander Paes / Mahesh Bhupathi (IND) bt Frank Dancevic (CAN) / Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI) 3-6, 7-6 (8), 10-4.
Singles (1st round): 6-Janko Tipsarevic (SRB) bt Eduardo Schwank (ARG) 6-3, 6-4.