Doubles specialist Leander Paes teamed up with regular partner Martin Damm of the Czech Republic to beat Agustin Calleri of Argentina and Andreas Seppi of Italy in the first round of the BA-CA Tennis Trophy in Vienna.
Playing their first match since the defending champions were ousted in their US Open opener in August, second seeds Paes and Damm took nearly an hour-and-a-half to subdue their opponents 4-6, 6-2, 10-7.
Awaiting them in the quarterfinals is the American duo of Mardy Fish and Robby Ginepri.
Paes has been absent from the tennis scene for more than a month. He skipped the Kingfisher Airlines Open in Mumbai, ostensibly to play in Bangkok with Jamie Murray but the duo never showed up in Thailand. The two were also to play doubles as a pair in Tokyo last week but that didn’t happen either.
Arguably the best Indian doubles player ever, Paes has been at loggerheads with former partner Mahesh Bhupathi (probably the real reason for bypassing ATP Mumbai – a tournament promoted by Bhupathi’s company).
Paes, 34 will quit playing with Damm at the end of this season and is slated to team up with Australian Paul Hanley in 2008.
A good performance at Vienna should help Paes and Damm garner enough points to qualify for the season-ending Masters Cup in Shanghai. The duo are currently in fourth place in the ATP Doubles Race.