Leander Paes returned back home on Tuesday morning after winning the French Open men's doubles title with his partner Lukas Dlouhy of the Czech Republic.
Leander will spend just fours days at home before heading to England and will be hoping to carry on the form in the grass court season and do well at Wimbledon. He spoke to CNN-IBN’s Roma Khanna in Mumbai.
CNN-IBN: Leander many congratulations. How special is this victory for you?
Leander Paes: Being my third French Open title it is obviously really special. I can keep all three trophies together and it's wonderful. Clay is not my favourite surface that I grew up on and it makes that much more gratifying. It was a bit alien to me as a kid.
CNN-IBN: Each win of course is special and each Grand Slam title is memorable. How would you place this one?
Leander Paes: As far as Grand Slams go your first five or six Grand Slams they just become numbers. Each one of them has its own beauty, its own shine and its own history. But for me, I am playing for a few more goals and that is to prepare for my sixth Olympics in a couple of years, Commonwealth Games in 2010 especially because they are in New Delhi, the Asian Games next year. I think it is my sixth as well. So those are the things that I am still playing for. For me winning Grand Slams is always wonderful. One prepares for big events.
CNN-IBN: Take us through the two weeks at Roland Garros? Did you at the start of the tournament believe that you could end up winning the title?
Leander Paes: To be honest I had no expectations coming to this French Open. We had a really rough start to this summer in Europe. Lukas fell ill. In Madrid we had to pull out of the event. Our coach Rick Leach fell ill. So he wasn't with us in Paris. We hadn't has a great start to the clay court season and it is amazing what can be achieved. It actually away the stress, takes away the pressure and you go out there with an open mind. It's been a wonderful experience these two weeks in Paris. We got a new fitness trainer, Brett Stevens from Australia who is in Australian Rules Football player who actually brought a fresh new mind set up, having played tennis for 20 years, its wonderful to learn few new tips.
CNN-IBN: What is the mind set when you are in your 30s and playing tennis which is more like your early 20s or mid 20s?
Leander Paes: It's really wonderful; it's a great experience to be out there. It depends sometimes you play against the teenagers or kids who are out there at times exuberant a lot and play tough. One thing that is internalised over years through out my career I guess is my experience and I maintained speed. So those are my strengths. But for me to keep on learning new tricks every three months to learn a new mindset, to learn a new top spin back hand, to learn second serve and this things keep me fit and into the game and I am a student through out my life and of tennis. Especially last fortnight in Paris has certainly taught me a lot.
CNN-IBN: You had your favourite fan Martina Navratilova cheering you and we also heard Bill Gates who said, Namaste in Hindi. So tell us about your friendship?
Leander Paes: Yes, Tennis has really given me some good friends both within the tennis fraternity and out of the fraternity. It's really wonderful to have Martina as a friend especially when you are struggling in the second set in the final of a Slam. It's your first Slam for your partner and as a team and jitters around you. Martina understands human psychology well and she understands the pressure. She is wonderful as a friend. She supported us and gave us confidence.
CNN-IBN: This couple of days your back at home and in India and then in Wimbledon.
Leander Paes: That's right. I will be at home for four days with my family. I really missed Ryan and Raina in Paris. I am going to take them to Wimbledon with me, two days at home will enjoy some good food and sleep on my bed and back again to court.
CNN-IBN: Roger Federer winning the French Open also. How do you feel?
Leander Paes: It's a magic. Roger to me is the epitome of what an athletic should be. For me he is a true champion and gentlemen, a great ambassador of tennis. Roger should win because of his great personality and it created a complete history in slams. To me he is a great player all time.
CNN-IBN: Okay thanks for sharing your time and views.
Leander Paes: Thank you.