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January 28, 2006

Leander Paes

Martin Damm



Q. What was that like to be part of as an occasion, even though you lost? Was it something that you could still enjoy?

MARTIN DAMM: Yeah, I mean, that was the main goal, you know, just to enjoy it, because we don't play the Slam final every week. So especially for me it was my second final after long time, so I just tried to enjoy it as much as I could, to play my best tennis. I think I did okay. We got a little bit unlucky at one stage in the third set at 2-1, 15-40, and then we get another I don't know how many breakpoints. I think that was the turning point. Because we really were better at that stage, but just didn't take our chances.

Q. Leander?

LEANDER PAES: Mate, it was a fantastic atmosphere out there, especially after what happened with the ladies singles. We all got rushed to get ready early and stuff. That took a little bit of effort. But once we got out there and the match really started, I must say I'm really proud of the way Martin played today. He played his heart out. That's all you can ask from a partner, is to go out there and play your best. He really fights hard. He's a man of a lot of character. He's a man who works hard. That's the reason I've given him the nickname "Mr. Hardworker." You win some, you lose some. I've been in many Grand Slam finals. I've won some and I've lost some. Thank God I've won more than I've lost. But today I think that the boys really deserved it, because they played well today. They served particularly well when they were under the gun, that's the Bryan brothers. We came up, to be precise, a quarter inch short. That was how far Martin's return at breakpoint at 4-3 hit the top of the tape. No one was home, as I call it. No one was there. If that had gone over, 4-All with the big fellow to serve, whole different ballgame. Really proud of the way we played. Magic atmosphere.

Q. Mike Bryan said in his press conference that he was pissed off that you were stealing their moves.

LEANDER PAES: Well, actually let's go back. I think that they were in their diapers when Mahesh and myself were doing our chest pumps. So it goes back quite a while, I think. It's not that we've stolen it from them. They actually took it from Mahesh and myself many years ago. I don't think anyone's patented that last time I checked. As far as I'm concerned, it's a move that we get kind of adrenaline with. It was very obvious today that Mike was trying to hit me in the head with many smashes, many volleys. That's the way it goes. We leave it on the court. That's the way it goes, and so be it.

Q. Where did that actually begin and why, that celebration movement?

LEANDER PAES: Who, Martin and myself?

Q. The body slam thing.

LEANDER PAES: I've been doing it since I was about 16 years old. I'm 32 now. So a few years.

Q. Why do you do it?

LEANDER PAES: I'm a very fiery sort of guy. I play with a lot of passion. I play with a lot of heart. Especially playing with a partner like this who reciprocates to my passion, it just drives the team forward. I think that with Martin and myself, we're going to play our best tennis when we're aggressive, we're going to play our best tennis when we're passionate, we're going to play our best tennis when we work hard. As far as that chest pump goes, it's something I started many, many years ago with my partners. What I try to do is get them by their collar, "Come on, let's go with this adrenaline up." Matches like this, the difference is one or two shots. It's not much. It's all about belief in the head. When you have the adrenaline, when you have that passion, when you have that belief in your head, it's a very potent concoction.

Q. You said he was trying to hit you with a couple of smashes. Is that just an accepted part of doubles?

LEANDER PAES: Yes. With the Bryans it is, for sure, for sure. Do you think it's different? (Question directed to Martin Damm.)

Q. Only with the Bryans?

MARTIN DAMM: I mean, when you step on the court in doubles, you expect that you get hit. I mean, it's a question if you really do it deliberately or not. I mean, Mike, I had a few matches against them, and Mike is always getting a little bit, you know, on the edge. He's always kind of -- I'm not saying he's doing anything wrong, but he's always kind of guy who maybe started a little tension, you know. But they don't have any effect on the match at all. It's just a part of the game. If you go on the court, you have to expect that you get hit because, you know, it's a big guys playing. It's hard serves, hard volleys, hard hitting from the back. You just have to accept that. I don't think it's nothing wrong with that unless you really hit the guy who is turning your back. I don't think anything really wrong with that.

LEANDER PAES: As Martin says, it's actually almost Mike does it all the time. Bob is really cool about it. The lefty is really cool about it. He hangs around, plays his game, he hits the shots that he has to hit. Whereas Mike basically is very tense. He's obviously not as good a player as his brother is. He always starts that up, because that's what it takes for him to fire up. You expect that with him. That's the way it is. So be it.

Q. Is there ever a question of taking him to task on that or do you just try to prove the point with the next point?

LEANDER PAES: My previous partner, Zimonjic, had a run-in with them at the World Masters. He would have almost put both of them into the lockers if we hadn't stopped it. That was one. The last Czech partner I played with, David Rikl, at the Miami championships in the finals - semis rather - a few years ago, got hit straight in the head by Mike, straight in the head, bang. It was an easy putaway. So you expect that from Mike all the time. He's just a little insecure little fella. It's all right.

Q. We spoke earlier in the week about the changes in the doubles format on the ATP circuit. In your last two doubles matches, I think you lost in the tiebreak in the mixed doubles. Obviously, there was a third set in today's match. It was a pretty incredible set. Lots of advantage games, lots of excitement. Potentially you suffered on the first instance. The game would have suffered potentially, having lost that third set. What are your thoughts now having had those two matches?

LEANDER PAES: I believe in the old format because of the fact, just look what magic it was out there today. I mean, you saw the way that third set went. Especially on those five breakpoints at 4-3, if we had gotten one, whole different ballgame. I think it's a toss-up. Having played the new format, it just takes us a little time to get used to it. When you play the smaller tournaments, you know your matches are finishing in about an hour, an hour and 15 minutes. It's infusing something special all the time. The no-ad scoring, when that was there, that infuses something magic, you know. It takes a little getting used to, especially for guys like us who have played for so many years. But it's quite interesting. It's an interesting format. It's the way the game's evolving. I'm up for change. I'm up for supporting the cause, as long as it benefits everybody. Like I said many times, Etienne de Villiers is a fantastic businessman. He's a very, very shrewd, smart man. He's got my support all the time.

End of FastScripts….

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