The newly-formed duo of Paes and Raven Klaasen began their partnership at the start of this season and promptly finished runner-up in Chennai. They went one step further in Auckland, capturing the Heineken Open title on Saturday thanks to a 7-6(1), 6-4 victory over Dominic Inglot and Florin Mergea.
Leander Paes is one partner away from playing with 100 different teammates during his illustrious career. No. 99 is making a strong case to prevent Paes from ever getting there.
“It’s been a good start to the year,” Paes assured. “It just goes to show that when you persevere and work hard together, we’re very potent as a team.”At this stage of my career, I have a great partner with me who keeps me young and motivated. He works hard on the practice court. He goes out on the match court and he’s very intelligent. That’s a bonus for me. I really love playing with Raven.”
The 41-year-old certainly enjoyed Klaasen’s stellar return of serve that was on display throughout the final. That helped the No. 4 seeds erase a break deficit in the first set before surging to a break lead in the second.
With the match on his racket at 5-3, however, Paes was broken due to some incredible returning by Mergea. Undaunted, the Indian-South African pairing answered with a break of Mergea’s serve to clinch victory.
“Leander is arguably one of the best doubles players of all time,” Klaasen said. “He’s still willing to learn and improve and teach me those things I haven’t heard before. Looking forward, my improvement curve is going fast, and he’s improving, too. The way things are going now, we’re going to be a tough team to beat.”