ibnlive » Tennis

Jan 28, 2012 at 10:13pm IST

Paes conquers final frontier with landmark win

The 2011 men's doubles final at the Australian Open saw Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi team up for the third time in their career in an attempt to lay their hands on something that had eluded them both.

However, the opponents on the other side of the net on that occasion, the Bryan (Mike and Bob) brothers went on to deny the famed Indian duo a fairytale reunion, winning the contest in straight sets.

Twelve months hence, Paes comes face to face with the same pair in the summit clash yet again of the very same tournament.

Paes conquers final frontier with landmark win

Leander Paes of India, right, and Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic celebrate after defeating USA's Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan. (AP Photo)

Having split with Bhupathi for the third time at the end of last year, the 38-year old veteran pairs up with Czech Republic's Radek Stepanek to deny the Bryans a record 12th grand slam title, and more importantly complete his own career slam in the men's doubles format.

In the process Paes goes on to win his 13th major and seventh men's doubles crown in grand slams.

The Indian Davis Cupper will have another crack to add to his tally when he partners Elena Vesnina in the mixed doubles final against the American-Romanian combination of Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Horia Tecau in less than 24 fours from now.

Having notched up crucial Davis Cup wins for India in singles and taking things a step further by winning the bronze medal in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, there can be no second opinion to the fact that Paes has the numbers to his name.

Despite a roller coaster ride with Bhupathi over the years, the tennis ace from Kolkata has redefined the country's sporting barriers and taken it to the highest level in doubles play since winning his maiden major in 1999.

That was the year when Paes and Bhupathi attained the number one ranking for the first time in their career and reached the finals of all four grand slam events, and finished on top in two of them.

The two were victorious at the French Open which was followed by the Wimbledon triumph soon after, which was where Paes also went on to lift the mixed doubles title with Lisa Raymond of the United States.

Since then Paes has been on a roll partnering Czech players, winning grand slam titles with Martin Damm, Lukas Dlouhy and now Stepanek.

He combined with the legendary Martina Navratilova also of the Czech Republic to win the Australian Open and Wimbledon events in 2003.

More mixed doubles success beckons Leander Paes who now stands on the threshold of his seventh grand slam crown in Sunday's final with Vesnina, in an effort to complete a spectacular double in the 2012 Australian Open and take his total count of majors to 14.

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