New Delhi: Indian veteran Leander Paes and his doubles partner Hugues Herbert turned it around remarkably for the Japan Warriors, who beat UAE Royals 24-21 to record their first win of the tournament in the opening match of the International Premier Tennis League's India leg here on Thursday.
From trailing 6-12 after two sets, the Warriors staged a remarkable comeback to register their first win after five successive losses.
UAE Royals began the match impressively with world number six Ana Ivanovic proving a handful for both Kurumi Nara and her substitute in the middle of the set Mirjana Lucic.
The Serbian superstar gave her team a 1-0 lead by winning the contest 6-2 with consummate ease. In front of a sparse yet vociferous crowd, Goran Ivansevic rolled back the years to dish out some exquisite strokeplay to extend the lead for UAE Royals.
Up against Swede Thomas Enqvist, Ivansevic showed that he had lost none of the old magic by outplaying his rival 6-4.
"It was a difficult match but he made it easy for me by committing some very easy mistakes," said the former Wimbledon champion.
However, the match turned on its head when local hero Leander Paes walked in for the men's doubles tie along with Hugues Herbert. Up against Tomas Berdych and Daniel Nestor, the Indo-French team prevailed 6-3 much to the delight of the few hundred fans, who had trickled into the stadium.
The 42-year-old Indian veteran was evidently enjoying himself, guiding Herbert, who is nearly a decade younger to him. The duo broke Nestor and Berdych once en route to the convincing victory.
Next up proved to be the upset of the match as Berdych found himself outplayed by the sheer grit of Herbert. Broken twice in the match, Berdych could only mumble in disbelief as Herbert stunned him by matching his power in baseline strokes.
The Herbert victory narrowed the scoreline gap to 18-19, making the mixed doubles set a crucial one.
The set was played between Kristina Mladenovic and Nestor and Lucic and Herbert.
Herbert, the US Open men's doubles champion, and Lucic ensured that the turnaround was complete as they clinched the issue 6-2 to finally open the Warriors account.