| Defending champion Guillermo Canas in action against Jiri Vanek in Chennai Thursday. Canas won 6-4, 6-2. (AFP)
Chennai: Leander Paes put aside the disappointment of his first-round loss in the singles and partnered David Rikl of the Czech Republic for a 6-4, 7-5 win over Simon Aspelin of Switzerland and Jim Thomas of the US to enter the doubles quarter finals at the Chennai Open here Thursday.
In a late match, Karol Kucera of Slovakia booked his quarter-final berth in singles with a superb 7-6 (8-6), 3-6, 6-3 win over Cecil Mamiit of the US.
Defending champion Guillermo Canas of Argentina, Germany’s sixth seed Rainer Schuettler, Jean Rene Lisnard of France have all joined Kucera in the last-eight stage.
Paes proved that when it comes to doubles, he is still a force to reckon with. Sporting a black shirt with white stripes and a clean-shaven face, he was colourful with his game this eveing. Perhaps he was fired by the urge to keep his appointment with Mahesh Bhupathi, his once illustrious partner — now an opponent.
Bhupathi in the company of Australia’s Todd Woodbridge had moved into the quarter finals Wednesday, beating Justin Gimelstob (US) and Mark Philippoussis (Australia) 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.
Aspelin and Thomas were up to their task and the games went with serve in the first set till the sixth, where Paes saved a break point before being broken for 2-4. He then answered his fans’ call and quickly seized back the initiative.
Paes and Rikl did enjoy the upperhand there onwards as the Indian played a domineering role with his sizzling punch shots up front. Though Paes compensated for his partner’s errors, he could not stop Rikl from being broken in the second game of the second set.
Like in the earlier games, Paes and Rikl once again paid back with the same coin. Paes held his serve for a two-all score and then the games went on serve till five-all. The 11th proved to be the turning point, as in the earlier games, Paes produced the break with his effective service returns.
In a match of fluctuating fortunes, Kucera, a losing semi-finalist here last year, kept his cool in the decider to halt Mamiit, who upset seventh seed Lars Burgsmuller in the first round.
Kucera ranked 84th in the world, meets defending champion Canas in the quarter final, which will be a repeat of the semi-final clash between them in the 2002 edition.
Canas kept himself on course for his fourth career title as he quelled the challenge of Jiri Vanek 6-4, 6-2 to move into the quarter finals.
Philippoussis of Australia lost 2-6, 1-6 to German sixth seed Rainer Schuettler in a second-round match. The Aussie, nicknamed Scud for his awesome ability to deliver aces, was a pale shadow of his usual self.
There was plenty of support for Philippoussis along with a lot of interest, but the Australian flattered to deceive and was totally outplayed by the German, who rained aces and winners at will.
In another match, Jean Rene Lisnard of France had to dig deep into his reserves before overcoming a late charge by Israeli lucky loser Noam Okun 6-0, 2-6, 6-2 to advance into the last eight.