New York: Indian tennis ace Leander Paes clinched his 17th Grand Slam crown by winning the US Open mixed doubles title with Swiss partner Martina Hingis here.
The fourth seeded Indo-Swiss pair, defeated unseeded Americans Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Sam Querrey 6-4, 3-6, 10-7 in a tricky final which lasted for one hour and seventeen minutes on Friday.
Paes and Hingis broke their opponent 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 bit of momentum was all they needed, as Paes easily closed the set out at 5-4 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’ 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 points on Hingis’ serve to grab the first mini-break.
The Indo-Swiss pair took the mini-break back on Mattek-Sands’ 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 championship point and then lifting Hingis in celebration.
With this title, 42-year-old Paes became the first man to pocket nine mixed doubles title, surpassing compatriot and former doubles partner Mahesh Bhupathi, who has eight.
In his 17 Grand Slam record, Paes has eight men’s doubles and nine mixed doubles titles.
It was the third mixed doubles crown of the year for Paes and Hingis, who defeated Daniel Nestor and Kristina Mladenovic in the Australian Open final and beat Alexander Peya and Timea Babos in the Wimbledon title match.
They are the first team since 1969 and second in the Open Era to capture three of four Majors in a calendar year.
“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 caliber of talent that Martina has,” Paes told the US Open official website after the match.
“One thing I do have is the guts. I will go for it. My whole life is about perseverance, just trying to find a way to succeed. 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. We actually have our best times when we are on the practice court. I learn a lot from her,” the 1996 Olympic bronze medallist added.
Hingis, 34, too heaped praise on her partner Paes.
“I mean, it’s awesome. Once we started the year and, you know, to walk away with three Grand Slam titles this season. So it’s incredible. I mean, I’m so lucky and fortunate to have Leander as a partner on my side. I know he has my back all day long,” Hingis said.
“I have never had a partner as thoughtful of me, backing me up, as Leander. It’s amazing the understanding we have for the game, like for each other, how we cover the court at the net, baseline, whatever works. Even one thing doesn’t work we come with plan B or C like it was today,” the Swiss veteran added.
Hingis also has a chance to add another in the women’s doubles final with India’s Sania Mirza on Sunday.