US OPEN 2013: Ace of Paes

Leander Paes and Radek Stephanek win the US Open men’s doubles title by beating Soares and Peya 6-1, 6-3 in a one-sided final.

 

Leander Paes, 40 years young, has officially wiped out the scarring memories of his 2012 film debut ‘Rajdhani Express’.

The grand old man of Indian tennis won his 8th Men’s Doubles major after storming through New York with Radek Stephanek. After losing last year’s final to the Bryan Brothers, Paes and his partner executed revenge on the American greats, eliminating them (in the semis) from what would have been their record bid to win all 4 majors in a single calendar year. This is not the first time Paes and Stephanek have beaten the brothers in a major, with Paes’ last Grand Slam title also being a final win over them in the 2012 Australian Open. On Sunday, they went on to demolish no. 2 seeds Soares and Peya in the final, becoming the first non-Bryan Brothers pair to win a Slam since Wimbledon 2012.

Paes has now won 8 of 16 Men’s Doubles finals, and 6 of 14 Mixed Doubles Finals. He is already one of the greatest contemporary doubles players in men’s tennis- and is the only man apart from Laver to have won the Wimbledon title in 3 different decades (Junior, Men’s Doubles and Mixed Doubles).
1999 will go down as his greatest year, where he achieved the unique distinction of winning Wimbledon in men’s doubles as well as mixed doubles- reaching all four finals that year withMahesh Bhupathi.

What will forever stand out about the man with a silken touch at the net, is his ability in the 90s to conjure up miraculous Singles wins over higher ranked players. His 1996 bronze and Davis Cup wins over Wayne Ferreira will be etched in the memories of many Indian tennis fans, as well as his rise to Junior World no. 1 singles rank after winning the junior Wimbledon and US Open titles. His choice to make Doubles his area of expertise has turned out to be one of the greatest decisions for Indian sports, and the journey is not over yet.
He is the oldest men’s Grand Slam winner on tour now, and is showing no signs of slowing down with his equally passionate partner Stephanek- who has come back in 2013 after a spinal surgery in grand style. This is their second Grand Slam title together, and they remain the only pair to not have a losing record against the Bryans, eliminating them twice over the last two years. While 2013 will go down in history as the year the American pair came within one match of a Golden Slam, 2013 will also be remembered as the year Paes and his partner rose from the ashes to destroy this bid.
This is Paes’ 3rd US Open men’s doubles title and his fourth US Open title overall.

Next on the list? Paes would dearly love to add a season-ending World Tour Final in his trophy cabinet, so far losing all 4 (0-4) finals he has played in over the years. In 2012, he lost to frenemies Bhupathi and Bopanna in the semi final- a loss that must have stung particularly badly.

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