Matt Ebden has revealed how playing in Leander Paes’ emotional playing farewell to his home country has inspired him for the rest of the season.
The retiring Indian champion and Ebden have joined forces in recent weeks as Paes plays his final tournaments in front of his home fans.
Ebden and Paes made the quarterfinals at the Maharashtra Open in Pune earlier this month, before reaching the final of the Bengaluru Open ATP Challenger on the weekend.
While Paes and Ebden didn’t get the fairy tale ending, going down 6-0 6-3 to Purav Raja and Ramkumar Ramanathan, it was still a wonderful experience for the 32-year-old West Australian.
“It’s been hugely motivating and inspiring for me,” Ebden told an event honouring Paes. “I’m definitely learning a lot from you, even at an older age myself.
“There’s more I want and I’m definitely getting a lot of inspiration. I’ve been looking for it for the last year and I’ve definitely found it so thank you for that. I’ve just been hugely motivated to do really well for this champion here for these two weeks.
“I wanted to win this for him. Through this week, I wasn’t thinking about myself at all. It didn’t matter to me how I fared.”
Paes, 46, was full of praise for Ebden and admitted the emotion of the moment had hit him as the Bengaluru event came to a close.
“Today there was this one moment when I felt emotional,” Paes said.
“After the match when I was going around signing autographs, this little girl, she may have been four or five, came up to me, laid down a T-shirt that had my face on it before me and said, ‘Leander, can you sign this?’ For a five-year-old to call me by name and know what I do felt special. Once I’d signed the T-shirt, she turned around and said ‘bye’. It hit me that this is it. This is the end.”
Ebden and Paes will team up again in Dubai next week.