My trophy cabinet is now complete, says Leander Paes on French Open glory
Leander Paes talks to Ashwin Ferro on his French Open mixed doubles triumph with Martina Hingis
>> On completing a Career Slam: This French Open mixed doubles crown has completed my trophy cabinet - this title eluded me for some time. In 2005, Martina Navratilova and myself lost in the final to Daniela Hantuchova and Fabrice Santoro and that really hurt, so this one’s very special. Having already won an Olympic medal, then the Davis Cup records and a career slam in men’s doubles and now a career slam in the mixed, it’s very satisfying for a keen student of the game like me.
>> On the tough final against Sania-Dodig: We had a tough semi-final too that went into the super tie-break so it’s not come easy for us at all. But thankfully, Martina’s brilliance and a few instinctive yet spot-on interceptions did the trick for us. We never gave up, even when we were a set down, we decided that we would fight for every point. The plan was to attack them on their service games and thankfully in the second set and then in the super tiebreak it paid off.
>> On clay being a tough surface: It’s slow compared to hard and grass. Besides for someone like me who jumps around court so much, it gets even more tougher on clay because when I jump across court, I leave the line open and more often than not, it works against us as it’s tough to retrieve the ball due to the slowness of the surface. I still enjoy playing on clay though because I don’t like to have things easy. And so does my partner Martina Hingis.
>> On 2016 being a tough year personally: Yes, I have been through a lot on the personal front particularly in the last few months. Aiyana (daughter) was unwell and had been in hospital but I’m very grateful to the doctors who did their best and helped her recover so well. Today’s she absolutely fine, touch wood. We spoke after my title win and she was over the moon. That’s the best feeling for me.
>> On representing India at the Rio Olympics: I don’t want to touch upon that topic at the moment. I’m only focusing on my tennis and looking forward to my next slam which is Wimbledon. It’s one of my favourite surfaces. Having said that, I continue to take pride in representing my country at the Olympics and it’s a dream to do it for a record seventh time.