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Paes in line for US Open double

September 04, 2008 09:23 IST

Almost a decade after capturing two doubles titles at Wimbledon in 1999, India's Leander Paes remained on target to replicate the feat at the US Open on Wednesday.

Paes and his Czech partner Lukas Dlouhy sprinted into the men's doubles final by pulverising Argentine duo Maximo Gonzalez and Juan Monaco 6-2, 6-0.

The success came less than 24 hours after he also reached the mixed doubles showpiece with Zimbabwean Cara Black.

"When you finish the semi-finals of a Grand Slam in 46 minutes, you'll always be pleased. It's one of the fastest matches I have ever played," Paes told reporters.

"It's exactly what the doctor ordered because they packed the schedule in and made me play twice yesterday and made me come back in early today. So good to get a quick match in."

After crisscrossing the world a few times over since turning professional in 1991, it is little wonder Paes has lost count of the number of partners he has had over the years.

But the one thing he is grateful for is that his 35-year-old body is still holding up and allowing him to challenge for the big titles.

"For me being in this position of being in the final of both the men's doubles and the mixed, I've done that before when I was much younger... and at 35 it's great to be in that same position when I'm playing for two titles," he said.

"I'm going to draw on that experience in 1999, when I did that in Wimbledon and I not only won the men's doubles but also the mixed doubles."

FIRST CHANCE

Paes will get his first chance to increase his tally of seven Grand Slam crowns on Thursday when he and Black take on the American-British pairing of Liezel Huber and Jamie Murray in the mixed finale.

Asked what his main concern was ahead of the two finals, he said: "The task this week is to keep my mind and my body healthy. I've played so much tennis in the last fortnight, that hitting the ball is the least of my worries.

"I'm seeing the ball like a watermelon, so it's just about keeping the body healthy."

As one of the most successful non-cricketing sportsman to have emerged from India, Paes feels he has many things to be thankful for.

However, despite being at an age when most athletes would be thinking about retirement, the doubles-specialist feels he still has some way to go before he hangs up his rackets for good.

"I never thought I'd play in five Olympics, I did. I never thought I'd win these many Grand Slams, I have. I never thought I'd win an Olympic medal and I did," he said.

"I'm very passionate about the game and at this stage in my career, at 35, it's just about raising the bar.

"I don't think there's going be too many Indians coming around who would be able to do what I've done. How far my name can live in those famous history books, that's what we players play for."

Source:
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