Leander Paes and Purav Raja won their first title together after joining forces as they lifted the Knoxville Challenger trophy with a close win over James Cerretani and John-Patrick Smith. The top-seeded Indian team battled past the US-Australian combination 7-6(4) 7-6(4) in the final of the USD 75000 hard court event, last night. It was first title-clash for Paes and Raja after joining forces since August, when they teamed up to compete at ATP 250 Winston-Salem Open.It was fourth Challenger title of the season for Paes, having won events at Leon and Ilkley with Canadian Adil Shamasdin and Tallahassee trophy with American Scott Lipsky. Paes also made a number of semifinals at ATP 250 level and has not lost a final this season. Raja before teaming up with Paes had won Bordeaux Challenger with Divij Sharan and also made the final of the ATP 250 Chennai Open with the Delhi left-hander. Raja said he has learnt a lot during this short partnership with Paes so far.“It is fun. I have learnt a lot and trying to work on a system which hopefully will make us better in the coming weeks,” Raja told PTI. Asked to elaborate, he said:”It’s nice to know what he (Paes) is thinking on big points and the approach to it. Also we are trying to form a system with eye formation which has enabled us to hold serve easier this week.” It was eighth tournament, including US Open, for the duo in three and a half months since uniting as a team.
“Yes, we have had some tough weeks and some good weeks.” PTI
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