Leander Paes, Hingis win mixed doubles trophy
Veteran Indian tennis star Leander Paes scripted history by notching up the US Open mixed doubles title with Swiss partner Martina Hingis to become the format’s most successful male player in the Open era.
The fourth-seeded Indo-Swiss pair edged past unseeded Americans Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Sam Querrey 6-4, 3-6, 10-7 in a tricky final to win their third Major title together this season.
The 42-year-old Paes has now won nine Grand Slam mixed doubles titles, surpassing compatriot and former partner Mahesh Bhupathi’s record of eight titles.
He is now behind only the legendary Martina Navratilova, who won 10 mixed doubles trophies. Of those 10, two came with Paes when they won the Australian Open and Wimbledon in 2003.
With this win, the Paes-Hingis pair, who also won the Australian Open and Wimbledon titles early this season, has become the first mixed doubles team since 1969 to win three Grand Slam mixed doubles titles in the same year.
It was Paes’s 17th Grand Slam title overall and Hingis’s 19th. Hingis has won four Grand Slam titles and all of them have come with Indians.
She won her first mixed doubles trophy with Mahesh Bhupathi when they won the 2006 Australian Open.
Hingis is also in contention in women’s doubles, where she is partnering Sania Mirza. The two had earlier won the Wimbledon title this year.
They are up against Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan and Casey Dellacqua of Australia in the summit clash.
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 6-4 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’s 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’s serve to grab the first mini-break. But Hingis and Paes took the mini-break back on Mattek-Sands’s 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.
Praise for Hingis
After clinching the title, Paes said he neither had the technique nor the calibre to match the Swiss legend but he tried to make up for it with his perseverance.
Paes said more than the technique it was his never-say-die spirit that had 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 calibre of talent that Martina has,” Paes said.
“One thing I do have is guts. I will go for it. It’s been part of my whole life, just trying to find a way to succeed,” he said.
Paes said chemistry was key to any partnership and he enjoyed a great rapport with Hingis.
“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 and drives the team forward,” Paes said.
“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