Miami: Leander Paes and his Czech partner Radek Stepanek came from behind to claim the men’s doubles title at the Sony Ericsson Open here on Saturday night, giving the Indian veteran his 50th doubles crown.
The seventh seeds beat second seeds Max Mirnyi and Daniel Nestor 3-6, 6-1, 10-8 in a match that lasted almost one and a half hours.
With the win, Paes became only the 24th player in ATP World Tour history to win 50 doubles titles. It was also Paes’ third straight crown at Crandon Park, having triumphed with Lukas Dlouhy in 2010 and Mahesh Bhupathi in 2011.
Paes and Stepanek looked out of sorts in the opening set and their opponents took full advantage of it, closing out the set 6-3 in no time. However, the Indo-Czech pair came roaring back into the match in the second set as they won it 6-1. The decider was a marathon and Paes-Stepanek trailed 1-4 before winning six straight points to surge ahead. Stepanek closed out the victory with a top-class volley.
"Well, actually Radek came to me and said something simple on my service return (in the second set) and that changed the whole momentum of the match. I have got to give full credit to Daniel and Max, they started out amazingly, they were all over us in the first set," a jubilant Paes said after the triumph.
"Over all these years of playing, I have got to thank many partners, I have got to thank many coaches... I have to thank my father but most importantly my wonderful partner right now, Radek Stepanek. [It's] really, really special. 50 tournaments takes a little doing. 600 matches takes a little bit of doing," said Paes. "Having done a three repeats here in Miami is awesome. Next year, I hope to start another one.”
Stepanek also expressed his delight at the win, their second team trophy of the season.
"We fought through it, and we got on top of them in the second set all the way. We (were) the more aggressive, and, I would say, creative team in the tie-break, as well. That's why we won. I am thankful to Lee for playing with me. It's an honour to play with a legend.”
Mirnyi and Nestor finished runners-up for the second straight year, and were bidding to lift their third trophy in 2012, after successes in Brisbane and Memphis.