Tennis ace wins his 19Th grand slam championship
Leander Paes and Martina Hingis completed the mixed doubles Grand slam last Friday (3) with a 4-6, 6-4, 10-8 win over sania Mirza and Ivan dodig in the French Open final.
Paes, 42, and Hingis, 35, had already won the Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open in 2015. It was Paes’s eighth mixed doubles title in all at the Slams to add to his 10 men’s doubles wins in a run stretching back to 1999. He had already completed the men’s doubles Grand Slam.
“I won my first Slam here in 1999 on this court,” Paes told a shivering handful of fans inside Philippe Chatrier Court. “Today we have com- pleted a team Slam. Martina, you are a fantastic partner, I love you like crazy. You cover most of the court, you are a real champion.”
Hingis, a five-time singles champion at the majors in her prime, now has five mixed and 12 women’s doubles titles. She won a first mixed title with Mahesh Bhupathi at the 2006 Australian Open.
Hingis and Mirza had also won the last three women’s doubles at the Grand Slams but were knocked out in the third round at the French Open. They slumped to a shock 6-3, 6-2 loss to Czech pair Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova.
Paes, who turns 43 next week, completed his career record on the court where he and Bhupathi won their first men’s doubles crown in 1999.
In the ensuing 17 years, Paes has added to that total, claiming men’s doubles titles at all four majors plus mixed success in Melbourne, New York and Wimbledon.
He filled in the blank on his record with Hingis, who has a sterling set of her own records, winning her first doubles title back in 1996 as a 15-year- old and claiming five singles Grand Slam titles while still a teenager.
“Today I complete the Grand Slam with a player who inspires me,” Paes added. “I’m fearless about anything. I believe in myself, I believe in my partner.
“You know, some days you win some matches; some days you don’t. It’s for such big moments that I live for. We have done it at the US Open. We have done it here today.”
Paes called Hingis “one of the most all-around players you’ll find in the game”. “She’s got magical returns because her technique is so short, quick, simple. Not everything in life is easy. Not every match, not every situation in life is easy.
“But when you got a mind like this – and she’s got a championship brain, championship mind – she’s worked hard all these years to try and find solutions to everything in life. And 99 per cent of the time she’s come out a winner, a champion.”
The Indian-Swiss duo, now winners of four of the last six mixed doubles titles, were pushed all the way in the entertaining contest against Croatian Dodig and India’s Mirza, who could end up playing with Paes at the Olympic Games in Rio later this summer.
Paes, now with a total of 10 mixed doubles titles, joins Australian duo Mark Woodforde and Todd Woodbridge as the only men in the Open era to complete both the career doubles and mixed doubles slams.
“This career Grand Slam goes out to one per- son, my father,” the 42-year-old said. “I love you and thank you for everything.”
Hingis is now closer than any other active player to the fabled ‘boxed set’ of Grand Slam titles. Of the 12 singles, doubles and mixed doubles trophies she has played for, only the Roland Garros women’s singles title is missing from her collection.
Hingis also spared a thought for her regular doubles partner Mirza, with whom she had been bidding to hold all four Grand Slam doubles titles with before their surprise defeat to eventual semifinalists Siniakova and Krejcikova.
“It’s never easy to play each other,” Hingis said of Mirza. “At the start of the tournament we always say if we have to play each other it should be in the final.
“I am really sorry this time but I am sure we will play many more matches.” (AFP).