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September 6, 2001

Leander Paes


MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Pretty tough match. Could have gone either way. How disappointed are you not to have come out on top?

LEANDER PAES: It's quite amazing the difference between actually winning a title and not, or winning a match and not. Today really showed it. Todd and Rennae are brilliant doubles players. I think we did well to stay in the match in the first two sets. But towards the end there, we picked our game up. Especially the second set at 5-6, some good returning by Lisa and myself. This new format of the ten-point tiebreak, I enjoy it. I really enjoy it. I think it's a lot of fun for the fans. As far as I'm concerned, I love playing tiebreak. I quite enjoy the format. I think the difference of winning and losing is very little. We had a match point there.

Q. You don't think that tiebreaker is kind of unfair in a title match? Really boils down to one or two points instead of having a set to play it out.

LEANDER PAES: Well, yes and no. I think the rule has come about to make it more exciting for the fans. I think that since the rule has come out, me being an athlete, I look to try to deal with it and make it work to my advantage. I quite enjoy playing tiebreaks. So personally, I enjoy it.

Q. What are your thoughts on upcoming Davis Cup? What will India have to do to prevail?

LEANDER PAES: Davis Cup is an event that I hold very dear to my heart. I played it for over a decade now. I was a young boy, teenager when I started, 16 to be precise. I have played against America once before in New Delhi, lost a tough outing there. We had a tough outing there. As far as this present Davis Cup goes, I'm looking forward to it. We've got a very tough task ahead of us. I think the US have got top-caliber players. As far as our Indian team goes, we come into the tie definitely as underdogs. When it comes to Davis Cup, we go out there and try our best. That's something I look forward.

Q. Who else besides yourself and Mahesh do we expect to see on your team?

LEANDER PAES: Two other players. One called Harsh Mankad. Harsh goes to University in America. The other is Syed Fazaluddin. Fazal played Davis Cup for us in the beginning of the year and through last year. There's a new national champion called Mustafa Ghouse. He's on our team, as well. We have a few boys to pick from.

Q. You parted ways last year with Mahesh over a dispute, then got back together just before the Olympics. Where are you at now? Can you talk about what happens?

LEANDER PAES: Well, it wasn't so much a dispute than the fact that we were both injured a lot. Mahesh had a shoulder surgery, and I broke my wrist. That was at separate times. So he was off for the first seven months. Then as soon as Mahesh game back, I was off for the next seven months. That made it very difficult for us to play together. On saying that, we've been back playing together for a full year now. It's been a lot of hard work trying to get our combination back to where we were in '99 and '98. So I must say that I'm quite pleased with the way the year has been in the fact that we're back to the Top 5 teams in the world. On saying that, we've had a very up-and-down year. When I say that, I mean except for the French Open, which we won. In all the other Grand Slams, we've lost in the first round, I believe.

Q. There was never any kind of a problem, communication problems with you and Mahesh?

LEANDER PAES: No. That was not the emphasis of us not playing together.

Q. What kind of experience do you have against Johnson-Palmer?

LEANDER PAES: Have I played them before? That's a good question. I've played with Don, and I've played against him quite a few times. He's a wonderful doubles player. I've played with Jared and against him a few times. I know exactly how they play. We know exactly what to expect. On saying that, they're with a lot of confidence at the moment, winning Wimbledon. They're in the finals this weekend. They're coming into the Davis Cup tie with a lot of confidence. I think that the whole American team is. So that's something that's going to be very tough for us to battle. Mahesh and myself haven't played much singles. I played a bit at Wimbledon. Apart from that, I haven't played very much. As far as Davis Cup goes, I'm going to get there a week before, prepare again. I'm pretty pleased with the way I'm hitting the ball at the moment, so I'm really looking forward to it.

Q. As you know, a doubles point does not make a Davis Cup tie. Have you played Roddick or Martin? Can you talk about your one-on-ones in singles?

LEANDER PAES: In the last Davis Cup we played against the US, I played against Todd. He beat me in four sets, in four tight sets. That was on grass in New Delhi. I'm not sure who's going to be playing singles apart from Roddick. Most probably Todd will play. When we do see who is going to play singles, I'll do my homework, and rest assured I'll come out there with my best foot forward.

Q. '96, Round 2, you played with Agassi on the Louis Armstrong court. Fantastic four-set match that you lost. What was the atmosphere there and today when you played in the Arthur Ashe Stadium court in the finals? How did you feel both occasions in your tennis career at the US Open?

LEANDER PAES: The Grand Slams are what I live for. Having played for so many years, it's a real thrill getting onto a show court. Playing Agassi on a show court, Louis Armstrong, especially after playing him at the Olympics, was something very, very special. I played a brilliant match that day for the first set and a half, then kind of got away from me. Shows what caliber player Andre is. On saying that, playing in the finals today at Arthur Ashe, it's another wonderful court. The stadium wasn't as packed today as it was when I played on Louis Armstrong, but the atmosphere was still electrifying. I find playing in New York really special. There's a special energy to playing in New York that I quite enjoy.

Q. Does the energy here, a hectic, crazy quality, a bit like New Delhi or Bombay, can you relate to that at all?

LEANDER PAES: Oh, yes, I can.

Q. Not too many cows in Manhattan.

LEANDER PAES: The energy is special. It's very much like India in many respects. But I enjoy playing in New York. It's wonderful.

Q. Just the intensity and the frenzy, is that what you would say?

LEANDER PAES: It's tough to describe it. The best way to describe it is it's a lot of hustle and bustle, a lot of things happening. I mean, the stadium in New York here, you've got the fans up close, especially on some of the outside courts, they're really close, Court 11, Court 13. It's got a magic to it. Especially playing here in Arthur Ashe, it's got a magic to it. I really quite like it.

End of FastScripts….

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