Though 33-year-old Radek Stepanek has been listed as Leander Paes' partner for the rest of the year, the Indian got the “younger legs” he sought for in Janko Tipsarevic.
A ripped and sharp Tipsarevic proved handy for the ageing Paes, as the third seeds scraped past towering Canadians Milos Raonic and Vasek Pospisil 6-3, 4-6, 10-7 in the first round of the Chennai Open on Wednesday.
Raonic and Pospisil, primarily singles players, were filling in as alternates for Somdev Devvarman and Conrad Treat Huey. The Indo-Philippine withdrew after Devvarman was ruled out of the tournament with a shoulder injury.
Tipsarevic’s movement and solid groundstrokes filled in the gaps for Indo-Serbian pair. “We worked very well together as a team,” said Paes. “It was a big advantage for us playing two singles specialists because we knew they are going to play a particular style. But there aren’t any apparent weaknesses in our team.”
While tackling the Canadians’ big serve and getting an early break were the key for Tipsarevic, the Serb was straightforward in his biggest motivation for the day: “You know what? I really didn’t want to lose my first match of the year.”