It’s Slam number 15 for ageless Leander
Leander Paes and his Swiss partner Martina Hingis beat the French-Canadian team of Kristina Mladenovic and Daniel Nestor in straight sets to clinch the Australian Open mixed doubles crown on Sunday.
Paes, contesting his 25th season on the ATP World Tour, and Hingis defeated defending champions Mladenovic and Nestor 6-4, 6-3 in the final that lasted an hour and two minutes. Paes has now won 15 Grand Slam championship titles, eight men’s doubles and seven mixed doubles. It was his third mixed doubles triumph at Melbourne Park, having also won in 2003 (with Martina Navratilova) and 2010 (with Cara Black).
“It’s a great honour to keep coming back to Australia. “There are a few people who got us together. All you guys back home, who put us together to win our first Grand Slam, thank you.”
In the first set, Paes-Hingis took a 3-0 lead but Nestor-and Mladenovic’s soon levelled the scoreline. At 4-5, a backhand drive volley error by Mladenovic gave Paes and Hingis a set point on Nestor’s serve. He committed a double fault to end the 29-minute first set.
Nestor and Mladenovic broke Hingis for a 2-1 lead in the second set but Mladenovic was broken in the next game. Net errors by Nestor paved the way to hand Paes-Hingis 4-2. Mladenovic was broken in the eighth game before Hingis sealed win with a winner.
Playing with Hingis a treat: Paes
Leander Paes and Martina Hingis, two legends of the game, were all praise for each other after winning their first Grand Slam together as the Indian ace called it a treat to win title with the ‘Swiss Miss’. “It’s a great honour to keep coming back to Australia. It’s a treat to play with Martina. I finally managed to learn some things from her returns and returned half decently today. It’s intriguing,” Paes said. He also paid tribute to his team behind the scenes. “There are a few people who got us together. All you guys back home who put us together to win our first Grand Slam, thank you,” the 41-year-old said. Hingis, who has seven Australian Open trophies including three singles titles in her glittering career, joked, “Martina (Navratilova), thank you for lending me Leander!” as Navratilova who watched the match from the stands smiled. Talking about the Indian, the Swiss legend said, “I think we even grew with every match, the confidence, the teamwork, the suggestions we had, one or the other, we really trust each other. I think that was the key in every match.”