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September 9, 2006

Martin Damm

Leander Paes

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. First of all, were you at all worried after the opening set, or you just figured that was the flow of doubles?
LEANDER PAES: Never. Worried (smiling)?
The guys hit two net cords at 5 4 in the tiebreak and I've actually lost a mixed doubles final here because of a net cord. So it went through my head.
I must say that the biggest thing that actually has helped us win this tournament is our communication. This partnership that we've got, Martin and myself, is 12 months old as of this tournament. I can't express I don't think there are enough words to express how much fun and how much learning I've actually had playing with Martin, because we're actually opposites on the court. Martin is strong and plays more solid. I'm more flashy and a bit more quick. We really complement each other.
It's been a fantastic year playing with him. I've really enjoyed it. I'd like to thank him for a wonderful year.

Q. I've been blogging this information. I've been getting a lot of stuff on, Gee, they didn't show the men's doubles. Do you feel as though you were being saved for a rain delay?
MARTIN DAMM: If we'd been saved?

Q. They purposely weren't giving too much information about doubles. They didn't show any of the match on TV so far.

Q. You're going on at the same time as a Roddick match.
MARTIN DAMM: That was a little bit unlucky, because normally they have a Friday final here. With all the rain obviously, you know, it wasn't possible.
It was kind of, like, sad to see the men's doubles final with, like, at the beginning maybe 150 people watching the match.
But then, you know, in the third set, the people came after Roddick finished, and I would say, could have been maybe like 1500 people watching the match, maybe 2,000.
So that was actually pretty good. But, yeah, you're right. I mean, the final of the Slam, you know, should be on the main court, and it should be televised. Well, it just happened.

Q. So continuing with this question, Leander is used to this, probably. Martin, are you getting used to the boisterous Indians in the crowd cheering for you?
MARTIN DAMM: I was just telling Leander that, right now, I can't change partner because if I play with some German guy or Italian guy, there will be nobody cheering for me.
But, you know, every place we go in the world, there is, you know, hundreds, thousands of Indians supporting us. So, you know, it's just great. You know, they were just very happy. We were giving the autographs after the match, and I was giving them some, you know, like wristbands. They were so happy and so, so, you know, thankful. So I just thanked them for their support. It was really great. It just feels great.

Q. Has Leander given you any advice about playing Martina tonight? Are you prepared to be the biggest Bad Guy?
LEANDER PAES: He's used to it. He's the biggest Bad Guy all the time anyway.
MARTIN DAMM: He didn't give me any advice. I played actually her and him two years ago on Armstrong. So I know a little bit how she plays.

Q. Who won that match?
MARTIN DAMM: They won. They won. I believe they
LEANDER PAES: Silly question (laughing).
MARTIN DAMM: I think they end up to win the whole thing.
Obviously, you know, I realized that all the crowd's going to be cheering for Martina, which is understandable. I just expect it. You know, I'm just happy that I can be part of her last match. Doesn't matter who wins.
But it's an honor to be part of such a big event and, you know, to play against her is just I think a dream for every professional tennis player.
So I'm just looking forward to it, and I hope I just can, you know, enjoy it as much as possible and obviously try to win.

Q. Was it difficult for you to put yourself in the frame of mind to play a Grand Slam final when there was so few people in the stadium? It couldn't have felt you were playing a Grand Slam final. How difficult was it to get yourselves pumped for this?
LEANDER PAES: I think preparing for a match you're not really so much worried about the crowd that's out there, unless it's a match that Martin is playing tonight when he knows that this is her last match and the whole crowd will be against Martin and his partner. But he's got a great shot tonight to win a second Grand Slam; two in a row would be fantastic.
You're not really so much worried about the crowd. For myself personally, I find that as the match wore on in that third set, especially with all the Indians there, they kind of gave me the energy and the spirit that we really needed to drive through. And especially that 3 All game in the third set. I was struggling a bit on my serve. We were down Love 30 already. Coming in for a second serve, my mind was playing games saying, Do I want to go for a big one wide, or do I want to kick it. I just felt, Let's go for it.
I think that the energy in the stands, especially with the Indians there really driving me forward, with the energy between my partner and me being so positive, that's what really helped.
So it does make a big difference when there are a lot of people in the stands, but you're not so much worried about it preparing for a Grand Slam final.

Q. You didn't think it was a negative thing when you started?
LEANDER PAES: No. I mean, you don't really focus on that so much. You're so worried about doing the right things on the court getting your feet in the right position, getting your first serve in, getting in place for your first volley, making returns, communication with your partner that you don't really worry about the fans there, not so much. You don't have much time at this level to really say, Time out, you know (smiling).

Q. With the win today, you guys are officially in Shanghai. Is that a great way to end your first year, Tennis Masters Cup?
MARTIN DAMM: Yeah, I mean, obviously, it's a new partnership, so it's always nice right away to make the Masters.
That was our goal, basically. Especially after such a good start in Melbourne, you know, there was a really good possibility. But then we were struggling a little bit, so we just had a little talk before Wimbledon and we just said either we're gonna go for it early and take it seriously, or we're just going to be sluggish as we were those couple weeks before Wimbledon.
So, you know, I've played two Masters Cup, Leander played I don't know, six, seven I don't know how many. It's not the first time for us, but it's the first time for us as a team. I am personally looking forward to Shanghai big time because I heard it's a great event. Leander made the finals last year with Nenad, and I was watching it on The Tennis Channel. I actually spent a few bucks to get my Tennis Channel on my home. I paid like $60 for it. It was worth it, actually. The show they put, it was just worth it.
I saw the atmosphere there. I'm just looking forward big time really.
LEANDER PAES: I've been in the Masters Cup final three times. Last year was my best chance to win it. I knew going into the Masters last year that I had already set up my partnership with Martin. I sincerely believed last September actually that Martin and myself could win a Grand Slam.
Sitting here today, now that we've won a Grand Slam, been in another semi and a final, I don't think there is any reason why we cannot win that final, coveted Masters Cup.
Having the experience that we've got having been there before, it's something that we're used to. I think the surface there also is very good for us. No wind because it's indoors; no elements about the sun and the this and the that. The tennis is at the highest quality.
I think that as long as we keep learning and keep growing together as a team, there is no limit. Today really I think the roof on the limit of our partnership was taken off, because the biggest thing that we had to overcome was our belief that we could win. We've got a lot of the strokes, we've got a lot of the physical stuff, and we've got the experience in our combined ages don't ask (smiling).
It's just about staying healthy, staying fit. I think the next year, as well, we can win a bunch of Grand Slams. No reason why not.

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