The unseeded pairing of veteran ace Leander Paes and Mathew Ebden pull off the biggest upset of the tournament as they defeated the defending champions Divij Sharan and his partner Artem Sitak (New Zealand) in the Tata Maharashtra Open at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex late on Tuesday night. Sharan-Sitak fought hard but failed to cash in the on the opportunities and lost in straight sets 2-6, 6-7.

The Indo-Aussie pair raced to a 3-0 lead, prompting a response from Sharan and Sitak, who made a strong comeback to help register the first point for the duo, but eventually conceded the first set 2-6.

The second set was much closer, with the Sharan-Sitak duo displaying more cohesion, with Sharan pulling off some smart forehand returns. The set went for a tie-breaker, which was evenly contested but Ebden and Paes triumphed and progressed to the next round after 1hr and 26 minutes.

Divij Sharan, following the game, shared his thoughts, “We weren’t at our best today. We played better in the second set but unfortunately, it didn’t happen today even though we have won in similar situations earlier. Sitak and I would like to wish Leander and Ebden all the best for the upcoming games, especially Leander, given that it’s going to be his last hurrah in India,” Sharan signed off.

So far in the ATP Tour 250 series event, Prajnesh Gunneswaran is India’s only singles player to make it into the second round of the competition. Prajnesh held his nerves in the tiebreakers to win his first-round match 7-6(4), 7-6(5) against Germany’s Yannick Maden on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, India’s promising singles players – Sumit Nagal and Ramkumar Ramanathan had also crashed out on Monday. Local lad Arjun Kadhe also lost his first-round match to Jiri Vesely of Czech Republic 6-2, 6-4. Sasi Kumar Mukund will face Burnie Open winner Taro Daniel in the first-round match on Wednesday.