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Paes-Vesnina fail

- Indo-Russian pair lose final battle to Horia-Bethanie
Leander Paes and Elena Vesnina, in Melbourne, on Sunday. (Reuters)

Melbourne: A second title eluded Leander Paes at Australian Open as he and Elena Vesnina ended runners-up in the mixed doubles event after being outplayed by Horia Tecau and Bethanie Mattek-Sands in the summit clash, on Sunday.

The fifth-seeded Indo-Russian pair lost 3-6, 7-5 (3-10) to eighth-seeded Romanian-American combination in one hour and 48 minutes at the Rod Laver Arena.

Paes was chasing a rare feat of winning two Grand Slam titles in the same tournament for the second time in his career but failed to cross the final hurdle.

In the 1999 Wimbledon, he had won both the men’s doubles (with Mahesh Bhupathi) and mixed doubles (with Lisa Raymond) titles.

On Saturday, Paes had won the men’s doubles title with Czech Radek Stepanek to complete a career Grand Slam. It was Paes’ fourth Australian Open mixed doubles final, having won two and lost two. Overall, Paes has six mixed doubles titles with the French Open trophy missing from his cabinet.

Paes praised his partner Elena Vesnina for reaching up to the summit clash. “Thank you Elena for supporting me and carrying me through some tough matches,” Paes said at the post-match presentation.

Congratulating Tecau and Mattek for winning the title, Paes said: “I would like to congratulate our opponents for some tennis lessons. The forehand winner Mattek hit in the tie-breaker was just awesome. You guys did a great job.”

Praising the crowd at the Rod Laver Arena, Paes said: “India and Australia have Republic Day in the same month January. There is a great relationship between the two countries. It’s real pleasure to come to the Australian Open.”

The combination of Tecau’s strong serve and Mattek’s stunning and powerful ground strokes, proved too hot to handle for Paes and Vesnina. Mattek hit some breathtaking winners, specially with her crushing forehand while Tecau hardly erred on his serve.

Mattek and Tecau made a strong start to the match as they broke Paes and Vesnina in the second game to take the lead. Mattek returned well and played aggressively.

(PTI)