Top seeds Leander Paes and Purav Raja, won their second successive Challenger title, in Champaign, U.S. In a lively doubles final, the Indian pair beat third seeds Ruan Roelofse of South Africa and Joe Salisbury of Britain 6-3, 6-7 (5), 10-5.

Like the tournament last week in Knoxville, the title was worth USD 4,650 and 80 ATP points. The runner-up pocketed 48 points and USD 2,700. With multiple Grand Slam champion Leander Paes willing to slug it out thanks to the sincerity of purpose shown by Purav, who has hired physical trainer Jake Nalepa to travel on the professional tour, the bond of the partnership is gaining strength with every outing.

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The two, with distinct style of play, have become consistent in striking a winning combination after going through tough times earlier once they joined hands before the US Open.

Fruitful alliance

While the rest of the Indian players reached home to compete in the Challengers in Pune and Bengaluru, Leander and Purav opted to slug it out in the American circuit. It was the fifth Challenger doubles title for Leander this season, and third for Purav, who had won the first with Divij Sharan in Bordeaux.

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At 44, when everyone has been recommending him to retire gracefully after having competed in seven successive Olympics, with the singles bronze medal won in 1996 in Atlanta being the icing on the cake of an illustrious career, Leander Paes has shown fresh hunger.

He volunteered to compete with Purav, who had played the doubles in Davis Cup World Group play-off against Canada in September with another Olympian, Rohan Bopanna.