Disappointed they might be after the second-round exit from Olympics but veteran Indian tennis star Leander Paes said he and his unheralded Vishnu Vardhan played "one hell of a match" against the fancied French combination of Michael Llodra and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in London.
Paes and Vardhan lost 6-7 (3) 6-4 4-6 to Tsonga and Llodra in the men's doubles second round last night in a gruelling contest that lasted over two hours.
Paes, who teamed up with Vardhan after being rejected by both Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna in a bitter selection row, lauded his inexperienced partner's fighting spirit.
"Being the first time that we have played together as a team, we've played a hell of a match again. Our first-round match was against some really tough opponents with one player No.33 in the world in singles (Robin Hasse) and the other No.21 in doubles (Jean-Julien Rojer), and we managed to beat them," Paes said.
"Today it was tougher. We had Tsonga who is No.5 in the world for singles and Llodra who is a multiple Grand Slam champion.
"I have to commend this guy Vishnu he's got a big heart and I've had such a thrill playing with him. He's a phenomenal competitor and he's got big stature as far as physique and things go and that is what champions are made of," he added.
Paes said he was satisfied with the duo's performance despite an early exit.
"Today we came up one or two games short against a formidable French team, but I was just talking to Vish during the match and saying 'can you imagine a third or fourth match playing together?' We have a lot of firepower but there are still a few things that we have to improve on. We have a big game and I'm very happy about that," he said.