Indian tennis great Leander Paes and partner Matthew Ebden reached the final of the Bengaluru Open ATP Challenger on Friday with a thrilling win. They will take on the all-Indian pairing of Ramkumar Ramanathan and Purav Raja for the trophy.
The Indian veteran, playing his final season on the tour, reached the final after a knocking out second seeds Jonathan Erlich and Andrei Vasilevski 6-4, 3-6, 10-7 in the semi-finals. Fourth seeds Ramkumar and Raja were given a walkover after Saketh Myneni and Matt Reid retired after dropping the first set 5-7.
In the singles, two more seeds crashed out of the as Italian Julian Ocleppo and Frenchman Benjamin Bonzi beating their higher-ranked opponents in the quarter-finals.
The 22-year-old Ocleppo knocked out 13th seeded Ilya Ivashka of Belarus 7-6(4), 6-7(3), 6-4 in a three-setter that lasted two hours and 40 minutes while third seed Yuichi Sugita of Japan went down to the unseeded Bonzi 7-6(5), 5-7, 4-6.
Bonzi will next meet second seed Stefano Travaglia of Italy who overcame a stiff challenge from 11th seed Blaz Rola of Slovakia before prevailing 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 in one hour and 56 minutes.
Ocleppo faces another stiff hurdle in the semi-finals where he is pitted against fourth seed James Duckworth of Australia who overcame ninth seed Thomas Fabbiano of Italy 6-7(5), 6-0, 6-2.
Ocleppo was down 2-5 in the opening set after he got broken early in the second game. However, he came back strongly to win three games on the trot to tie at 5-5 and take the set into a tie-breaker, which he won. “My comeback in the first set was very crucial because the match could have ended by the second set,” said Ocleppo.
After the opponents had traded a break each in the third and fourth games, Ocleppo lost the tie-break even as he had two break points. A stiff battle ensued in the decider with none giving their rival an inch. The Italian, who was on a break point in the ninth game, hit an awesome down the line shot to surge 5-4 ahead.
“That was my best shot of the match today and it was very crucial,” said the winner who held on to his serve to win the match.
“I know Ivashka very well both personally and about his game. It is tough to return his serves and he is a very good player who could have won this tournament. I served very well today and once I got used to returning, it became a little easy. I am doubly happy to have beaten him,” said Ocleppo.
Julian Ocleppo (ITA) bt  Ilya Ivashka (BLR) 7-6(4), 6-7(3), 6-4
 James Duckworth (AUS) bt  Thomas Fabbiano (ITA) 6-7(5), 6-0, 6-2
 Stefano Travaglia (ITA) bt  Blaz Rola (SLO) 6-4, 4-6, 6-2
Benjamin Bonzi (FRA) bt  Yuichi Sugita (JPN) 6-7(5), 7-5, 6-4
With PTI Inputs