Leander Paes,who completed a career Slam by winning the Australian Open men’s doubles title,tells the Indian Express that he still has unfulfilled dreams.
Has it sunk in that you have achieved a career Slam?
It took me 20 years to lay my hands on this trophy. After some four Australian Open finals,it has finally come home with me. There are so many memories from this tournament. A group of Chelsea supporters were cheering for us because Radek (Stepanek) is great friends with some of their players. Chelsea players like Petr Cech were constantly sending us messages. Plus,having Martina (Navratilova) cheering for me from my box is always special. She has been one of my dearest friends over these years and she was there for me for both my finals this year.
You stopped the Bryan Brothers,the top seeds,from becoming the most successful doubles team of Open Era.
Just a week ago we had lost to them in Sydney in the quarters. I had come so close to winning this last year before meeting them in the final. And someone told me after the tournament that we were the only team to have beaten the No.1,No.2 and three seeds at the Australian Open.
You hadn’t played with Radek Stepanek for almost six years. Did you expect such a good result so soon?
Two weeks ago his doubles ranking was 112 and now he has moved to 23. I thought it would take at least three months before he entered the top-20 bracket. But he has learnt so much doubles in just 21 days,I have to thank him for being such a good partner.
You had said that with fresh legs you would be back to winning majors. How does it feel to be proven right?
I knew what I needed,I needed fresher,younger legs with me. Last year,I didn’t play a lot of tournaments except the Majors and the Masters and I had not won a Slam in 2011 and that is one thing that will change this year. As this is an Olympic year,I’ll be playing more tennis and training extra hard.
Who will Leander Paes partner in the London Olympics?
That is a question I don’t have an answer to. There is still so much tennis to be played before the Olympics. I would chose to concentrate on strengthening my team and I would worry about things that are under my control. I believe the AITA will take the right decision about this.
You have ticked off the Australian Open box. What are the other targets for you this year?
I want to win a career Slam in mixed doubles as well. I am looking forward to Roland Garros for that. I already have an Olympics singles medal so a doubles medal this year will be great. Also,I have made the ATP World Tour Finals final four-five times,so I would like to win that this year.