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June 3, 2016

Leander Paes

Martina Hingis

Paris, France


4-6, 6-4, 10-8

THE MODERATOR: Questions in English.

Q. Congrats on winning the career Grand Slam. You both completed at the same time. I remember in Australia last year I had said there are some slams which you had to complete, and you have done it this time. Your thoughts on completing the slam at Paris.
MARTINA HINGIS: Well, it's an amazing feeling I think any time you are part of writing a record book, so it's nice to have these achievements when you look back on your career. And not only, you know, to win it, but also how to win it.

I think it's also we're not the youngest ones to have like 20 more chances to come back to Roland Garros and make it happen. I think, like I said, it was always probably one of the most difficult surfaces and difficult times also given throughout the two weeks here the circumstances that didn't always help.

But I think it's, like you said, the same to everybody, and you have to take the best out for you and we managed to come on top. I'm very proud of that. Thank you, Lea.

LEANDER PAES: You know, the real key to that is what Martina just said, is how you win it. You can win it with different partners. You can go out there and win it in a different style. But to actually do it with this young lady is just phenomenal. For me --

MARTINA HINGIS: I just turned 17. (Laughter).

LEANDER PAES: For me, she's just not only a champion of the game, like I keep saying. All of you have written about Martina Hingis the tennis player, but if you actually look at Martina Hingis the person, she's a greater champion even off the court than she is on the court.

She handles adversity amazingly with a lot of grace. She handles tough situations very easily. When we get on the court, the way that we communicate, she's one of the world's best communicators, and that's why I love playing with her.

It's no doubt that communication and that hard work that we do, the way we do it is why we won a career Grand Slam Grand Slam. We have done it in literally 18 months. We started playing 18 months ago. To finish a career Grand Slam in 18 months takes a little bit of doing.

So I had to learn a few things on the court on how to play mixed on the clay. I knew how to do it on grass and hard courts where your footing is better. But we learned something in the second-round match here. Martina actually taught me that, basically cover my line.

MARTINA HINGIS: You still cross pretty well.

LEANDER PAES: But it's fantastic to do with Martina. She's a great champion of the game.

Q. You showed a little bit of emotions out there running around, Leander, with hands high. Did you feel that you were like -- it was a close match, or did you feel that either you were going to lose it? Why was it so important for you? You were not showing any emotion until then, but when you hit that volley you were like so excited. What was going on through your mind then?
LEANDER PAES: Anyone that knows me knows that I'm fearless. I'm fearless about anything. I believe in myself. I believe in my partner. You know, some days you win some matches; some days you don't.

Again, I think it's the essence of how you do things, and that's the fun part. Going out there, I knew it was a big point. Martina played a great rally. She hit a half-volley lob over Dodig's head and Sania hit a half volley down the line.

We played to our strategy. That was a big point for me to actually -- I hit one shot that whole rally, but I crossed at the right time. That was what was important. I didn't cross early, which a year ago, two years ago I would have probably done that. Then I picked the right strategy and crossed at the right time thanks to the communication we have.

For me, big moments is what I live for. We have done it at the US Open. We have done it here today. Don't ask me about that 8-All return. I still don't remember it. You know, again, another thing it's like I hit that 8-All return, yes, but Dodig is a great baseliner. He hit a great shot at Martina. Look at her presence of mind, you know.

She knew that -- wasn't sure what return I was going to hit. Was I going to chip it? Lob it? Dink it? But it was the first time in the whole tournament I hit a hard backhand return. First time.

When the ball came back with interest to her she just took her backhand and, Shoop, short crosscourt winner. Look at the presence of mind.

Yes, I hit a great return, but that shot won it for us. To me, we complement each other so well, and that's what I really enjoy. You know, with Martina it's two years of watching her hit returns I finally hit one good one.

MARTINA HINGIS: It's all right.

Q. You two have had an incredible amount of success in this format. For the Olympics, which is the cut-off for mixed based on ATP rankings, and yours isn't as high as your mixed success. If there were mixed rankings you'd be No. 1 in that. So what are you hoping to do if you are hoping to play Olympic mixed?
LEANDER PAES: I'm playing for a new country, Lea-Tina.

You know, for me, I love playing for the country. I love playing for our people. But I will leave it to the wise man to decide who is the best to represent our country. For me, I always love the big stage, I love playing. But at the end of the day, I think the best can I do is to make myself ready and leave it to the wise man to decide.

Q. As I said yesterday, playing in Chatrier after 16 years, how does it feel winning? Like how Leander said, within a short period of time you managed to complete the Grand Slam. So how does it feel? Like the second coming? Then do you consider playing singles again?
MARTINA HINGIS: Playing singles again? What? (Laughter.)

No. I mean, like I always liked playing the French Open. I always loved to come back here. I mean, even today and yesterday I come to love PC court, my Philippe Chatrier, because I had great moments and sometimes not so great moments out there.

But today was definitely one of the moments I will never forget, thanks to Lea. Like I said, we had an amazing partnership throughout the past probably three years because it's not only playing together on the tour the last 18 months, but also the TeamTennis that we manage to kind of always embrace and win the last three years.

Yeah, that got me going. Lea got me going again. But I better stick to the doubles. I really enjoy that. I have two great partners that I can rely on and I trust. Today with Lea, I mean, Jesus Christ, that return, we had to wait the whole tournament to hit a freaking backhand return.

But he's always there when it matters, big points. Like he says, he embraces the big points, big moments. I know I can trust the moments with my life that he's actually going to put that return in and gonna make a play.

That's what happened today and yesterday, and the tournament and in the past.

Q. Congratulations. Leander, you just said Martina is really good at communicating to each other. In fact, right before the match point seems like you guys are having pretty long conversation. It looked like Martina was encouraging you, tapping you on the back. Could you talk about what kind of conversation, what kind of things you guys are talking before that match point?
LEANDER PAES: You know, the semifinal match point we had a long conversation. Today we got a warning for time violation. (Laughter.)

But today on the match point it was very short. That's the fantastic part. She just comes up and says, Go with your strengths. Go with your best serve. That's the fun part. We always look to play with our strengths against the opponents' weakness.

When you get the confidence like that, when your partner says, Go with your strengths. I hit a pretty good serve; Martina covered the perfect shot; Dodig came up with an unbelievable return. I knew that I had to stretch more than I wanted to. Because I could have stayed back and hit a groundstrokes but, no, I was going to take a volley.

When I got overstretched I made the ball back, but if I made it deep he would have been able to hit it. If I just made it with little side spin, short, and sometimes it's -- you know, you just believe in your partner.

She said, Just go with your best serve. Even that last shot he had a chance to play it, and normally he was coming down my line and I faked and stayed. Martina had the middle covered. We covered the right spots.

That's because of the hard work we put in in practice. You know, we both had 20-year careers, and every day we persevered to practice hard. We tried to do the right things. Now with us, with Martina's singles, our doubles, mixed doubles, we are playing because we love the game of tennis. We are playing because we want to master the game of tennis, whether it's sometimes returns, sometimes serves, sometimes volleys, sometimes turning a match around in the second round when you're getting beaten badly.

You always believe in each other and the communication is always positive. That's what I like about her.

Q. Incredible feat. Congratulations to you both. Similar question to the last one, but could you just talk -- you spoke about Martina's great, great communication skills.
MARTINA HINGIS: He's the one who can talk forever, so communication is like --

LEANDER PAES: I took a one word answer and answered it for like about 15 minutes.

Q. We can ask you one question and you can give us five answers. If you can just talk about what is her skill set? What makes her such a great...
LEANDER PAES: I think she's one of the most all-around players you'll find in the game. She's got magical returns because her technique is so short, quick, simple.

At the same time, she can change the pace up. She's got a great two-handed backhand down the line, but you try and cover the line and it goes flip shot crosscourt. Look at what happened at 8-All.

If you look at Martina's fastidiousness to master the game of tennis, she may not have the biggest serve in the world, but she puts it in the right spot. She puts it in the right spot to do what she wants next.

So today, I mean, I'll give a little secret away. She served Dodig's forehand all day long. The reason she served probably there is even though his forehand is huge, because he had to move to the forehand side, the next one was going back to backhand.

Then she started mixing it up. Not only technically but also here. I think most of life and most of tennis is won between the two temples. I think that's why this young woman is such a champion in my book, both on and off the court.

Not everything in life is easy. Not every match, not every situation in life is easy. But when you got a mind like this - and she's got a championship brain, championship mind - she's worked hard all the to years to try and find solutions to everything in life.

99% of the time she's come out, you know, a winner, a champion. So before I played with Martina I thought she was great. Now playing with her I really realize why she's great. That's the beauty of my career. I come from a small town in Calcutta in India. A lot of people, but far away from Roland Garros. Far away from Flushing Meadows.

But when you actually get to see people like this and interact with them, practice with them, live around them, talk to them, communicate with them, tennis --

MARTINA HINGIS: Look who is talking now. (Laughter.)

LEANDER PAES: No, tennis has given us a lot in our lives. To answer your question, she's very versatile. Her brain, apart from all the other skill set she has, her brain makes it very sharp.

Q. Today it was a historic day for Indian tennis because we had two Indians in the final. Your thoughts on playing Sania in the final. And Sania is your partner in women's doubles. How was it playing a friend like in the final?
MARTINA HINGIS: Like I said already on the court, it's never easy to play your best friend on the tour. Also, we spend so much time together in the last, I'll say year and three months, four months. What it's been since we started playing together?

The thing is that we know each other's games and minds very well. I mean, we can probably use it for each other against each other. That sometimes is the problem, because like I said, it's not easy mentally to go out there and play your friend. Because, anyway, you don't want to hurt them, but you don't want to lose, either.

So it's a very emotional and mixed feelings to walk on court already. But I think the more often we play each other in the finals, hopefully in this combination -- I'm not saying it's going to get easier, but like I said, it's already -- last time we played each other earlier, which was -- they won there; we won here.

If we play each other every time in the finals of a Grand Slam we are all winners already. I think, yeah, it's nice to win, but on the other hand, yeah, it's playing your friend.

So you try to keep it nice and short and sweet, but I'm very happy, of course.

LEANDER PAES: I think Martina summed it up, you know. It's not easy playing against your partner and your friend, you know. I have had situations when I had to play against Radek or against Mahesh or people that you're close to.


LEANDER PAES: (Conversing between the two of them; indiscernible.) You know, it's one of those things unique about tennis. At the end of the day it's a professional game. It's an individual game even though you're playing doubles and mixed sometimes.

You've got to be professional about it. And as much as you go out there and maybe your celebrations are a little held back maybe, today it was a huge momentum for us. We had a huge occasion today, so, yes, we did celebrate big because we completed a career Grand Slam. It's emotional.

But when you're playing against someone you like, someone who is a close friend, you generally hold back a little bit your celebrations. Especially if they make a mistake, you know, you don't cheer for it. Actually someone cheered against us when I got broken in the second set and I missed a shot and they really clapped loud. Got someone here fired up.

And you've got to be professional at the end of the day, you know.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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