New York: If at an age of 42 Leander Paes is thriving and still winning the Grand Slam trophies it because he has "guts" to go after his targets.
Paes combined with Swiss great Martina Hingis to win a record ninth Mixed Doubles Grand Slam title as they beat American combo of Sam Querrey and Bethanie Mattek-Sands in the US Open final.
Soon after he won his historic US Open title, Paes said more than the technique it is his never-say-die spirit that has got him success.
"Martina said something that was quite interesting. She said you have to have the guts to go after something, and I don't believe that I personally have the technique or the caliber of talent that Martina has. One thing I do have is the guts. I will go for it. It's been part of my whole life is about perseverance, just trying to find a way to succeed," Paes said after his win, which made him the most successful male tennis player in the mixed doubles format.
He has now won nine mixed doubles major titles and trails behind only Martina Navratilova (10).
Paes said chemistry is key to any partnership and he enjoys a great relation with Martina Hingis, who is phenomenal player.
"Sometimes the chips are against you, sometimes they fool you. What I love about this teamwork is that in any partnership there's got to be one person who brings the energy to the team. There's got to be one person who takes all the pressure on their shoulder and drives the team forward.
"I know if I can keep Martina happy, if I can keep her relaxed, the tennis I don't even have to worry about. This young girl is phenomenal on the tennis court and off of it," he said.
Paes and Hingis broke Mattek-Sands at love to take a 2-1 lead in the opening set as the Swiss hit a forehand passing shot to secure the break. That break was all they needed, as Paes easily closed the set out at 5-4 when Hingis hit a volley winner.
A lone break of serve also decided the second set, as Mattek-Sands hit two straight winners to break Hingis' serve as the Americans led 3-1.
Hingis saved three set points on her serve at 2-5, but Querrey easily held in the next game to send the contest into a deciding super tiebreak. The unseeded Americans were cruising as they created a 4-1 cushion when they won both the points on Hingis' serve to grab the first mini-break. But Hingis and Paes took the mini-break back on Mattek-Sands' serve at the next opportunity.
The crucial point of the match came at 7-7, when Paes blocked Querrey's serve for a clean passing-shot winner. He then won both points on his serve to close out the match, hitting an overhead winner on their first match point and then lifting Hingis in celebration.
When asked about his next target, Paes said he was looking forward the Davis Cup tie against Czech Republic in Delhi next week before talking about what would be his seventh Olympics in Rio next year.
"Firstly, I am looking forward to Davis Cup next week. We will try out best to win and make the World Group. Then there is Rio Olympics next year. It would be special to have my father with me at my seventh Olympic appearance. Both Rohan (Bopanna) and Sania (Mirza) are doing well in doubles. I hope we can put up a good show for India," said Paes, who won the singles bronze at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
Paes also said that they train hard before the matches but at the same training has never been a stress for them.
"We actually have our best times when we are on the practice court. Like yesterday, we were there yesterday. We were on the practice court before the Australian Open. We were on for like two hours practising for a final. Just having fun. I learn a lot from her."
It was the third mixed doubles crown of the year for Paes and Hingis, who defeated Daniel Nestor and Kristina Mladenovic in the Australian Open final and beat Alexander Peya and Timea Babos in the Wimbledon title match.
They are the first team since 1969 and second in the Open Era to capture three of four majors in a calendar year.
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Updated Date: Sep 13, 2015 10:02:53 IST