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Tennis: Indian legend Paes, 40, and Stepanek win US Open doubles

India's Leader Paes (right), 40, won the US Open men’s doubles with Czech Radek Stepanek for his 14th grand slam title. Photo: Mike Lawrence/usopen.org.

India’s Leader Paes (right), 40, won the US Open men’s doubles with Czech Radek Stepanek for his 14th grand slam title. Photo: Mike Lawrence/usopen.org.

September 9, 2013: India’s Leander Paes, 40, won his 14th grand slam doubles title when he teamed up with Czech Radek Stepanek to beat second seeds Alexander Peya of Austria and Brazilian Bruno Soares 6-1, 6-3 in the US Open men’s doubles final.

 

It was Paes’ eighth grand slam win in men’s doubles and added to six mixed doubles titles in the slams, confirming the 40-year-old as one of the greatest doubles players of all time.

 

“I think the best advice I can give to anyone for doubles is get a partner from the Czech Republic,” said Paes, whose two previous US Open men’s doubles titles in 2006 and 2009 came with Czech partners. “They work hard and that’s what Radek did today. I have to give a big shout out to my partner.”

 

Peya and Soares appeared tense and nervous in their first slam final, hitting twice as many unforced errors to winners in the opening set. A routine forehand volley dumped into the net by Soares sent them down an early break of serve, while Peya found himself down 0-40 in their next service game.

 

A strong return of serve by Stepanek sealed the break and the Indian-Czech pair took a 4-0 lead. Peya held serve at 0-5, but Paes comfortably held serve in the next game to close out the first set. Paes and Stepanek made good on all three of their break point chances in the opener.

 

In the second set, a double fault by Peya sent them down an early break of serve, after which Paes saved a break point opportunity in the next game with a forehand volley winner.

 

With Peya serving at 1-3, the Austrian struggled with his back and received a lengthy medical timeout. He appeared unable to arch his back afterwards, but still managed to hold serve for the first time. Paes and Stepanek continued to hold serve and broke the injured Peya once more at 3-5, before Paes rifled one final volley winner to clinch the title.

 

Paes and Stepanek hit 23 winners 10 errors on the day, while Peya and Soares struggled with eight winners and 12 errors. The winners split US$460,000.

 

The Indian-Czech pair leapt from No. 22 to No. 4 in the Emirates ATP Doubles Team race to London and now seem likely to qualify for the season-ending championships. Stepanek is also projected to rise to No. 5 in the ATP World Tour doubles rankings, while Paes is projected to move up to No. 6. Peya and Soares will remain at No. 3 and No. 4, respectively.

 

In men’s doubles, Paes has now won three US Opens (2006, 2009, 2013), three French Opens (1999, 2001, 2009), one Wimbledon (1999) and one Australian Open (2012).

 

In mixed, he has won Wimbledon three times (1999, 2003, 2010), three Australian Opens (2003, 2010), one US Open (2008) and reached the French Open final in 2005.

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