Age, according to Leander Paes, is just a number, something that he “looks at and smiles”. The 40-year-old partnered Czech Radek Stepanek to win the US Open men’s doubles, his eighth men’s doubles Grand Slam title and 14th overall, beating Alexander Peya and Bruno Soares 6-1 6-3.
“Today Radek helped me to get to be the oldest man to ever win a Grand Slam in the Open era. I thank him for that, and we are definitely not done. I’m going after 41 now, 42, and then 43,” said Paes after winning the title.
“We both come from humble background and come from countries where tennis wasn’t necessarily the number one sport. We both fought against adversity to get to where we are. So age is just a number for us. Age is something that we look at and we smile. We chat with you guys and smile about it, because, you know, you guys tease us about it, which is nice. For us, we really take it very seriously to go out and get better every day and to push each other.”
Paes insisted that this was one of his most “special” victories. “This one is actually really, really special. For me, this one is probably even more special than the Australian Open win. In Australia I was going for a career slam, and that was something that Radek worked so hard to do. We achieved it; he did it for me. That was really special. This one really means a lot to me, because through this year we both had to handle a lot of adversity,” he said.
“I have always said that tennis is such a blessed profession for us that you build friendships, you build camaraderie, you build a brotherhood. For me to win this trophy after the year Radek had with him is just something I will never forget.”
‘One of my best’
Paes said the victory counts among some of the best moments of his long career. “It’s way up there with some of the best Grand Slams that I have ever won. Today is my 31st final, and this young man is probably the best partner I have had. I really enjoy travelling with him, working with him, playing with him, working hard to be better,” said Paes.
It was the third US Open title for Paes and the previous two had also come with Czech