Ten is just a number for Paes

Joy of competing and prevailing against odds is what motivates me

Ten is just a number for Paes


Leander Paes, (R) of India, and his partner Lukas Dlouhy, of the Czech Republic, hold the championship trophy after winning the men's doubles finals match, New York, Sunday. AP

Paes had injured himself ten days back while playing mixed doubles but he overcame the pain and combined with Czech Lukas Dlouhy to outlast Mahesh Bhupathi and Mark Knowles of Bahamas 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the men’s doubles final.

“I’m a little numb at the moment, because it’s just been a mammoth effort over the past two weeks. But when I woke up, I didn’t know if I could get through the match, there was so much pain. I’ve been carrying a really, really sore shoulder,” said the Indian.

“Every time I touched the ball, there was so much pain that I didn’t believe that I could actually go through the match and finish. But I knew it was my job to endure the pain and be steady,” he said.

With this year’s French Open doubles crown, partnering with Dlouhy, already in his pocket, Paes felt the current season was the best in his 18 years as a professional.
“This is possibly the best year I’ve ever had on the tour,” said Paes, who turned pro in 1991. “Today’s match was of real high quality. Well done,” added Paes, with the satisfaction that he and Dlouhy had erased memories of last year’s final loss at the same Grand Slam.

Paes was all praise for his partner Dlouhy, who led from the front as the former was carrying an injury. “I just have to say I’m blessed with a great partner in Lukas. He seems to play on the big moments, you know. That’s the important part, is when you have a partner that recognizes that I was injured today and I was hurting and he just stepped up to the plate and just said, I’m going to do it,” he said.

“You just be solid with me today, and I’m just gonna take over and do it for you. And he did. That’s the beauty about doubles, is that you have another brother there to rely on. Today this Grand Slam, I think especially today, was just Lukas’ match. He played MVP for sure.”

Paes was happy that he won his Grand Slam number 10 but said “it is just a number, the joy of competing and prevailing against odds is what keeps spurring me on and not the desire to further fill up my trophy cabinet.”

Paes bettered his score against his estranged friend and former partner Bhupathi by moving ahead with a 10-9 score in matches where they have featured as rivals.
Asked about facing Bhupathi at the other side of the court, Paes said, “Usually when I and Mahesh faceoff it’s a tough match. This final was no different. It’s just that when it goes down to the wire what matters is the ability to raise ones game and put the other team under pressure. I am glad we managed to do that in the middle of the second set.”

Grand Slam titles won by Leander Paes

The 10 Grand Slam titles won by Leander Paes, with name of partner in brackets:
Men's doubles (six titles)
2009: US Open (Lukas Dlouhy)
2009: French Open (Lukas Dlouhy)
2006: US Open (Martin Damm)
2001: French Open (Mahesh Bhupathi)
1999: Wimbledon (Mahesh Bhupathi)
1999: French Open (Mahesh Bhupathi)
Mixed doubles (four titles)
2008: US Open (Cara Black)
2003: Wimbledon (Martina Navratilova)
2003: Australian Open (Martina Navratilova)
1999: Wimbledon (Lisa Raymond)

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