No mixed feelings forLeander Paes and Hingis
Leander Paes once jokingly attributed the success of a partner in mixed doubles to him being ‘good with women’. Now, credited with nine Grand Slam titles in the mixed event, the most by a man in the Open era, the tongue-in-cheek remark works equally for the 42-year-old Indian.
On Friday, a blow-hot, blow-cold day at Flushing Meadows, the fourth seeds in the US Open mixed doubles – Paes and Martina Hingis – battled back from the dead, trailing 1-4 and 2-5 in the decisive super-tie break to clinch their third mixed doubles title of the year. Paes and Hingis beat Americans Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Sam Querrey 6-4, 3-6, 10-7 to become the first pair since Margaret Court and Marty Riessen in 1969 to win three major titles in a year.
“It’s awesome to walk away with three Grand Slam titles this season, it’s incredible,” Hingis, who is also in Sunday’s women’s doubles final playing alongside Sania Mirza, said. “I’m so lucky and fortunate to have Leander as a partner. I know he has my back. The understanding we have for the game is amazing. I feel we’re almost invincible on court. I think we have that extra point when we walk on court, we have a little bit of this aura.”
Hingis and Paes, who are delightful to watch as a pair, broke Mattek-Sands at love in the third game to move ahead. The Indian then served out the set, with Hingis knocking off a volley. A lone break of serve also decided the second set, Mattek-Sands struck two straight winners off either flanks to break Hingis’ serve and give her team a 3-1 lead.
Paes then swung the match his team’s way at 7-7 in the super tie-break, coming up with a passing shot that whistled past his opponents. The veteran Indian won both points on his serve to close out the match before hoisting a beaming Hingis in celebration.
Paes, who led the team’s charge for most part, saluted his partner. “I feel pretty awesome having won three Grand Slams this year,” the veteran pro said. “But this young cat over here is going for a fifth one in one year. She has already won four this year and is going for her fifth title.”
Paes added: “I don’t believe I have the technique or the calibre of talent that Martina has. One thing I do have is the guts. I will go for it. It’s been part of my life, this perseverance, just trying to find a way to succeed.”