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October 14, 2012

Leander Paes

Radek Stepanek


6‑7, 6‑3, 10‑5

THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  Pretty good year for you guys.  Australian Open title.  How do you feel going to London?  Do you feel confident?
LEANDER PAES:  We feel all right.  We feel good.  We've had a great year.  It started off with a big bang.  To do well early in a partnership is something that can happen.  But to continue playing well right through the whole year, to continue playing right through the whole year shows the quality of tennis that we play.
For me personally what I really like playing with Radek is we're looking to improve all the time.  For me that's the potency of what the other guys feel.  When they come to play us, today the two boys started off really well, right at the beginning they jumped on, we had to claw our way back.  First set tiebreak they played well, we had to claw our way back.  That's what is fun about our partnership, we keep learning, keep improving.

Q.  You spoke about the small faults and niggles you have, you're improving.  Did you get a chance to learn anything new today?
LEANDER PAES:  Yes.  Today there were two shots in our game that we haven't played all year.  I think in the match tiebreak there were three shots that won us that tiebreak.
The two shots I'm talking about was Radek hit a big return.  Mahesh picked up a good volley.  Then Radek had a medium ball short, took it, chipped just about the net, pulled it down low, Rohan missed a volley.
The next shot I think won us the tiebreak was an unbelievable world class pickup from him.¬† At Love‑1 in the match tiebreak, hit a big serve, Rohan hit a big return.¬† Radek hit a good volley.¬† In most cases with doubles players that's a winner.
Radek does all the training.  He got down, got it up the line.  Mahesh didn't even think it would come back.  That really kind of changed the momentum a bit.
The third shot was my little dinker where Mahesh missed a volley.
Those two shots we played today were two really good shots that normally is not in our repertoire.

Q.  How mental is it?  You're playing more or less the same guys, how much of the mental aspect is it?
RADEK STEPANEK:  I think tennis changed a lot that the mental part of the game is taking more and more percentage because all of the guys are working very hard on a daily basis.
It's a lot of tight matches when the mind has to be clear, strong, positive.  That's what we are trying to, you know, keep having all the time.  No matter what's happening on the court, we try to support each other, be positive.
The most important thing is to believe, to believe in our tennis, in ourselves, in each other.  That's the key, you know, playing doubles.

Q.  Next year, are you going to be playing with Radek again?  If so, how many weeks?
LEANDER PAES:  I think so, no?  (Smiling).
I look forward to next year with Radek.  We haven't discussed the exact number of weeks.  For me it's fun to focus on the Grand Slams.  It's fun to focus on the Masters Series.  For me it's also fun to focus on the singles.  Radek is a world class singles player as we saw this week already.
I personally know how I gave up my singles for doubles.  I think Radek can play doubles for many years.  He's already a Grand Slam champion.  He's already in the top 10 in the world.  After today, I'm trying to push him to No.5 in the world, No.1 in the world.  He hit a milestone a couple weeks ago where he's the only Czech player in the history (indiscernible) singles and doubles.  That's a real feather in his cap.
Next year, yes, we're going to focus on the Grand Slams, we're going to focus on the Masters Series, and we're going to focus on Radek's singles.  For me it's important that we do things right.
This year we still got one more week to go.  Now we got a bit of a breather.  Radek goes back for singles.  I hope we can do well.

Q.  Last year you didn't play the French Open together, a few tournaments leading up to that.  Is that going to be the same thing?
LEANDER PAES:  We haven't discussed it yet.
RADEK STEPANEK:  I think we've been discussing for 14, 16 weeks this year.  But we knew if we were willing to play more to make Masters, we would add more tournaments.  If we do, we have more freedom for my singles, we don't have to play that much.  Since we won our Grand Slam straightaway, we qualified, we put a lot of pressure off our back.
Our communication is back.  If I need some weeks for my singles or feel tired of playing a lot, I have always the option because I have Lee in my corner.  If he feels he wants to play more, he's going to anyway.

Q.  The World Tour Finals, you haven't won that.  That along with the Australian Open was one of your goals.  How do you feel going into that tournament?  How important is that?
LEANDER PAES:  I feel all right.  I feel good.  We got to make sure we just play our style of tennis.  It's been a real phenomenal year.  So really kind of at this stage in the game I'm playing for milestones, I'm playing for history.  I'm playing to check off landmarks in my career.
For me I have tremendous respect for Radek for doing that for me.  The fact he comes out this week and there were two situations where he played singles and won singles and late, and I was thinking of bringing up the conversation for him to concentrate on his singles.  That's something that I will always do.
But yet the fact he comes out and plays doubles late at night on Court No. 3 with 10 people watching in the first or second round, and today we sit at the podium in the winners' position.  It's the hard work we do on the outside courts day in and day out, for him in singles and doubles.  Those are the things I respect him for.
The fact that he helped me win the Australian Open after many years of trying, three or four years of finals, three or four finals in the World Championships, something like that.  I have tremendous respect for the way he puts his heart on the court for me every day.  That's one of the things that will make him one of the if not the best partner I've ever had.

Q.  Talk about your partnership.  How is he different than the other partners you've played with and have had success?  What makes Radek different?
LEANDER PAES:  He's a great blend of professionalism, talent, and a crazy cracker.  He's a lot of fun.  He's got a lot of personality.  He keeps it fun.
Today was a bit more of a personal match for us three Indians.  Radek came in and he made it fun for me.  He relaxed, laughed, joked.  Said stay smooth, relaxed and have a hungry intensity.  I come up and make it fun for him and try and take over whenever I can.
For me it's the communication in any relationship that is the essence that can make magic.  I've had that with Radek from the first day I've really met him.  We have this amazing understanding of each other.
If I make a mistake, he has a great way of telling me.  I understand and I respect him, so I listen.  If he makes a mistake, I try to make it short and sweet so he understands and improves on it.
When things are going great, it's always amazing.¬† Yesterday we won 2‑0.¬† That was one.¬† Today we had to persevere.

Q.  There was the whole stuff with the Olympics going on, the three of you guys, Davis Cup.  Talk about that.  How awkward is that to have to go out there?
LEANDER PAES:  That's the exact word, just a little awkward.  That's it.  I respect Ro and Hesh for being great tennis players.  They work hard for their lunch money.  At the end of the day we're all professionals.  We go out there to beat each other as hard as we can.
Personally, I don't hold animosity or grudges.  I know in our careers what everyone is trying to achieve.  I think I have that experience in my life, to understand what each one of us is trying to achieve, every one of us.
I think at times, sometimes I'm a little grace, sometimes having a little class about it, sometimes just doing what's important to you and doing it well.  At the end of the day I'm a big believer in karma:  what you put into the universe you get.  At the end of the day I see what other people are doing, as well.  You just respect, move on, do what you got to do.  The cake is enough for everybody to share a bit of it.

Q.  A lot of top 10 players, top 20 players are trying their hand at doubles.  That makes it even tougher.  How is it going to help doubles, prop it up, take it to a higher level?
RADEK STEPANEK:  I think every time the top singles guys are entering the doubles, it's definitely very entertaining for the crowd.  I think it helps the doubles tremendously because the quality of the tennis, the talent they are bringing in, it's amazing.
When you see sometimes playing Nadal doubles, sometimes plays Andy Murray with his brother, sometimes you see playing Roger with Stanislas Wawrinka, you see the crowd is full, cheering.  Seeing them on the doubles court is very unique.  As long as the top singles guys will play doubles, it's going to be very, very tough for the rest of the teams.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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