Shanghai : Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek won the ATP Shanghai Masters, their third tour-level title of the season, after defeating Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna 6-7(7) 6-3 10-5, here on Sunday.
The fourth seeded Indo-Czech pair saved four of the five break points and broke their sevent seed opponents twice to pocket the match and the trophy in one hour and 36 minutes.
It was a kind of a grudge match for Paes as both Bhupathi and Bopanna had refused to play with him at the London Olympics. They rebelled and forced AITA to pair them together at the marquee event.
“Today was a bit more of a personal match for us three Indians. Radek came in and he made it fun for me. He relaxed, laughed, joked. Said, ‘stay smooth, relaxed and have a hungry intensity’. I come up and make it fun for him and try and take over whenever I can,” Paes said.
Paes and Stepanek had joined forces at the start of the season and straight away won the Australian Open. They also won the Miami Masters. Last month they were finalists at the US Open and they came into Shanghai on the back of a runners-up finish at the Japan Open in Tokyo.
“We’ve had a great year. It started off with a big bang. To do well early in a partnership is something that can happen. But to continue playing well right through the whole year shows the quality of tennis that we play,” said Paes.
Paes and Stepanek, who have already qualified for the season-ending World Tour Finals in London, shared a USD 207,320 purse.
Four spots remain at the year-end championships, and Bhupathi and Bopanna too have enhanced their chances by claiming 600 ranking points. It was 51st tour-level title for the 39-year-old Paes and second in Shanghai.