Leander Paes and his partner Vishnu Vardhan fought their hearts out before losing to second seeds Michael Llodra and Jo-Wilfred Tsonga of France in a gruelling men’s doubles second round match, in London on Wednesday.

Paes and Vardhan gave a torrid time to the formidable French combination before losing 6-7 (3) 6-4 3-6 in two hours and seven minutes.

With their defeat Indian challenge ended in the men’s doubles but Paes and Vardhan can hold their heads high as they made their rivals work very hard to earn points.

The other Indian pair of Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna had lost in straight sets yesterday.

Indian challenge is still alive in the discipline as Paes and Sania Mirza are set to open their campaign in the mixed doubles tomorrow. Their mixed doubles match was scheduled for today but had to be postponed till tomorrow because of the back log owing to inclement weather in the past few days.

Vardhan, who has gradually grown in confidence while facing world’s best players, supported Paes well with his good serve and agile play at the net.

He was never broken in the entire tie and held his own when all the pressure was on him during the match.

Both Tsonga and Llodra often targeted Vardhan with their intimidating ground strokes but the young Indian showed tremendous stomach for fight within his abilities.

The Indian duo faced breakpoint only once in the opening set, which they lost in the tie-breaker.

They saved two chances in the second set and got an elusive break to force the decisive and third set.

The final set was no different with Indians fighting tooth and nail but Paes dropped his serve eighth game and that was enough opening for the French team to capitalise. The Indians paid the price for making a number of unforced errors in the crucial third set to allow the Frenchmen walk away with the match.

Nevertheless, the Indians saved three match points before a long forehand by Paes sealed their fate.

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