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January 31, 2010

Cara Black

Leander Paes


7-5, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Leander, it was your second Australian mixed doubles title, your first with Cara. What won it for you, your expertise?
LEANDER PAES: Uhm, that's a tough question actually. There were two breaks back and forth early in the first set. I think that just our expertise and the way we play doubles, the way we cover the right shots at the right time, and the fact we keep bringing it to our opponents.
Even if they break us once, even if they break us twice, even if they break us three times, they're going to have to play exceptional tennis through the whole match to win. I think that's what won it for us in the semis really, which was a real tough match.
That's what won it for us today, is that our individual play, our instincts are very well matched well together.

Q. When Cara was serving, you were in the middle of the net. Is that new to doubles or a general thing? Because it worked beautifully.
LEANDER PAES: Crouched just to keep the hell out of the way. No, actually stuffed up a few early in the match because I was trying to cover too much court. That's where I actually play the I formation with Cara, to give her less time, the opponent less time to react to her serve. Also with me in the middle of the court, they see me jumping up right in the middle.
Long story short is that made a few mistakes early on by trying to be too good, and then we managed to work our strategy out by keeping it simple. We could see that the girl, Makarova, was going cross-court with both her returns. Her forehand was going cross-court and her backhand was going cross-court. That's eventually when we started covering.

Q. Cara, I was surprised to hear this is your first Australian mixed doubles title. That gives you the slam of mixed doubles. Must be a thrill to have won the slam mixed doubles.
CARA BLACK: Yeah, it does. It's one that's been eluding me. But playing with Leander, it's been a goal of ours. You know, we said it since we started playing together, you know, we've had such great success. We talked about it last year. He promised. He made a promise to me we were going to get this one. He's good at getting keeping his promises.

Q. Will you be playing together the rest of the year in the slams?
CARA BLACK: I hope so. If he'll have me (laughter).
LEANDER PAES: If she'll have me (laughter).
CARA BLACK: If he can put up with me. Yeah, hopefully.
LEANDER PAES: Chivalry still lives in tennis and India and on the tennis tour. If she'll have me, we'll still be together.

Q. You're 36; what motivates you to keep going? You've won 42 titles.
LEANDER PAES: My partner, my daughter. A bit clichéd. I think the lifestyle of a tennis player is really blessed. I think that when you look at the whole year of travel, you get to visit some amazing places, you get to make some great friendships. That's what I've tried to do with the partners that I play with.
Winning Grand Slams is obviously fantastic in a partnership. It obviously gives you your awareness around the world. People recognize you when you go around the world because you win Grand Slams together as a team.
But really what I really respect about Cara as a partner or the partners that I've had, Cara in particular, is a very sensitive human being. She's got intelligence. She's got hard work. You know, I know for sure every time I step on the court with her she's going to put everything out there.
To me that's what motivates me. To me, that high standard of excellence, that high standard of putting your best out there whether you win or lose, I think that's what's got us through many matches also in the past, matches we maybe should have lost.
I guess the glue between our friendship off the court or the respect we have for each other, the families that we come from, the heritage that we basically try and creates as kids of those same families, I think that's what enables us to win Grand Slams really.

Q. Does he talk non-stop on the court as well?
CARA BLACK: It's great. I love it (laughter).

Q. You seem to have a good time on the court when you're playing together. I wonder how much practice time you actually have together.
CARA BLACK: Uhm, we actually don't get to practice much with each other. Like Le is always doing so well in his doubles. You know, my partner, too. Like we have our respective doubles partners, as well, which unfortunately keeps us apart a bit on the practice court.
You know, when we can, we definitely do. And it's great fun, you know. That's one of the greatest things about Leander. He's so relaxed, just easygoing, lets you be, makes you feel so comfortable. That's one of the greatest things stepping out on the court next to him.
He makes you feel like gold, you know. You really feel great out there. You feel he's got your back all the time. You know, not a better feeling.

Q. It's very instinctual between the two of you. For this tournament in particular, how much practice time did you have together?
CARA BLACK: Uhm, 45 minutes this morning.
LEANDER PAES: This morning (laughter).
LEANDER PAES: It's a privilege to get practice time with Cara. Playing on the court as a match, we do it quite often, but practice is a privilege. We actually enjoy warming up together. We give each other good rhythm.

Q. Cara, you've obviously done really well. There are not many tennis women coming out of Africa. Why do you think that is? What do you think needs to happen for the picture to change?
CARA BLACK: It's a good question, one I get asked a lot. It's quite frustrating, you know, I think because just coming from Africa, it's an underdeveloped -- a lot of underdeveloped nations and things. It's pretty hard to get a lot of, you know, all the, you know, racquets and balls.
Tennis is an expensive sport. So I think I was very privileged growing up. You know, my dad, my family were able to support my brothers and myself with what we needed, uhm, you know, for the game.
You know, it's not just racquets. It's strings and shoes and balls, things which wear out very quickly. It's an ongoing thing all the time, and very expensive. I think that's one of the biggest issues.
I think also just culturally it's quite different, you know, amongst the women. Sports-wise, they're not that way motivated. We're trying to change that a lot, especially in Zimbabwe.
That's one of my goals with my husband in the future. We'd like to try to do something to try to change that. We went to the Olympics in Beijing, and it was so inspiring to see the athletes, not just the tennis players. But our athletics, our swimmers, there's so much potential.
Yeah, the other thing, too, is, like, they all come from -- uhm, you know, in schools you get such a lot of everything, like, uhm, a bit of cricket, a bit of rugby, a bit of tennis.
LEANDER PAES: The kids don't focus on just one thing. Think that would be something great for us to focus on in the future.
Uhm, yeah, but the biggest thing is getting the funds there, uhm, which can be a bit tricky.

Q. Leander, you just briefly mentioned on the court that this one is for India and Australia. Could you expand on what significance it holds for you?
LEANDER PAES: The reason I actually said that, is because in the past India and Australia have had great relations, especially in sport. Cricket over the years, tennis over the years. I think that's the beauty about tennis and sport, is that you transcend any kind sort of communal troubles there are, so to say.
I think it's a responsibility for some of us who travel around the world representing our countries at the same time to support those relations.
I love Australia. I've had an Australian coach for 10 years. I live in India. India is my motherland. It's just something that came spontaneously to me.
It's quite intriguing that we share the same day for republic day. That's the reason I set it out there for India and Australia.

Q. Given the stage you are in your career, what does this trophy mean to you?
LEANDER PAES: Whew. It means many different things. One of the first questions I was asked at my age, to continue winning Grand Slams. That was something we were talking about at the prize ceremony. 21st Grand Slam final, 11th win. The beauty of continually putting the hard work day in and day out in the gym or on the track when you're not feeling great, these are the things you play for.
Interesting enough, today's match was fairly simple and comfortable. But the semifinals was a tough one. You know, and that's the thing about tennis, that it keeps teaching me. I'm a student of life; I'm a student of tennis. It keeps teaching me about getting better.
If Roger Federer can keep improving, I think all of us can still improve, as well.

End of FastScripts

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