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September 8, 2013

Leander Paes

Radek Stepanek


6‑1, 6‑3

THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  First off, congratulations to you both.
LEANDER PAES:  Thank you.

Q.  If you could just comment on your thoughts about winning this trophy, the two of you together, what it means to each one of you individually.
RADEK STEPANEK:  I think it means, to us, as a team‑‑ you know, we have always been as a team on the court, and this trophy I think this year is very special because of what we have been both going through this year.  It all means a lot, both of us.  Can I say that?
RADEK STEPANEK:  There is one thing we would like to achieve, and that's winning the World Championships in the end of the year, because that's the trophy which is missing in Leander's showcase.  That's what I'm, you know, very focused on.  That's what I would like to deliver to his showcase.
Today with this win, we qualified for the Masters, I believe, and that's the first step.  I'm very happy that the trophy is right now in front of us and we are both enjoying it.

Q.  Leander, if you could, you have won Grand Slam titles before, but with Radek, can you talk about‑‑ is there something special about this particular one?
LEANDER PAES:  This one is actually really, really special.  For me, this one is probably even more special than the Australian Open win.  In Australia I was going for a career slam, and that was something that Radek worked so hard to do.  We achieved it; he did it for me.
That was really special.  This one really means a lot to me, because through this year we both had to handle a lot of adversity.
I have always said that tennis is such a blessed profession for us that you build friendships, you build camaraderie, you build a brotherhood.
For me to win this trophy after the year Radek had with him is just something I will never forget.  It's way up there with some of the best Grand Slams that I have ever won.
Today is my 31st final, and this young man next to me is probably the best partner I have had.  I really enjoy traveling with him, working with him, playing with him, working hard to be better.
We just finished winning a Grand Slam.  Straight after we finish here we going to go to the gym and do our work that really takes us to being the oldest guys to win Grand Slams, keeping us younger, keeping us happier, and also keep getting better.
This whole week I thought that Radek did a good job using all his skills as a tennis player, not just to try to play doubles or not just to try and play singles, but use all of his skills as a tennis player to have an all‑court game.
Today if you saw the way he returned, the way he transitioned from the baseline to the net was excellent.  He crossed nicely.  So really, for us, this win means a lot to us this year.

Q.  You mentioned age.  Your average age is 37.  You take a lot of pride in that.  There are a lot of guys 30 and over on the successful doubles tour.  How much pride is there in being over 30 for these guys, and certainly for you, dominating doubles, and why are you so good now?  Have you continued to get better?  What's the secret?
LEANDER PAES:  You know, both of us just spoke to our respective fathers just now.  My dad is an Olympian.  Won a medal in '72 in field hockey.  First thing he told us was, You guys keep getting better.  My father is the sort of guy that doesn't rest on his laurels.
He keeps pushing to try to get better.  Every one inch, every one percent helps.  Me learning from Radek's returns and his footwork on the baseline; him learning from my hands at the net or the way we read the game; the way our coaches are helping us get better; on the practice court, for me to make sure he does his singles stuff; to go out there and help him with certain drills that he likes to do; after that we go out and do specific doubles stuff to set a strategy for the team we play against.
Today Radek helped me to get to be the oldest man or the oldest tennis player to ever win a Grand Slam in the Open era.  I thank him for that, and we are definitely not done.  I'm going after 41 now, 42, and then 43.

Q.  How inspired have you been, you know, in terms of what Radek has gone through in terms of his surgeries and so forth to make you, you know, not want to succumb to the ravages of age, if you will?
LEANDER PAES:  That's a great question.  Radek inspires me every day.  What I like about him is he's humble.  He, like any human being, goes through the ups and downs of life, but he always does it professionally.  He goes out there to do things that matter to him.
His thinking, his thought process, he is very rational.  He chooses good people around him.  If someone comes in to cause a little trouble, he will see through them.  It's just a matter of a little time.
He's looking to get better every day.  And that's the cardinal rule my father taught me when I was a kid, is to look to get better every day.  We both come from humble background and come from countries where tennis wasn't necessarily the number one sport.
We both fought against adversity to get to where we are.  So age is just a number for us.  Age is something that we look at and we smile.  We chat with you guys and smile about it, because, you know, you guys tease us about it, which is nice.
For us, we really take it very seriously to go out and get better every day and to push each other.

Q.  On Friday you were on the court with the Bryans.  You took them out this year; they took you out last year.  What's it like when you four get together on a match?
RADEK STEPANEK:  I think, you know, when you play against the best doubles team in the history of this game, it's always a special match.  You always want to play your best.  You always want to beat the best.
You know, last year I think we learned a lot from that match, and, you know, our record against them is I think 4‑3 now.  We have a positive record against them since we are playing together.
So that's a pretty good record to have against the best ones.  You know, it's something where you want to be.  You want to play with the best.  You want to be the best.

Q.  Both of you, this year was a roller coaster, but it's going to be a happy end.  If you can pick up one moment on and off the court, what would be?
LEANDER PAES:  Great question.
RADEK STEPANEK:  So I picked a moment second‑round match when my partner wanted to hit a backhand return and it got windy in that moment.  He nearly broke his nose with missing that with a mishit.
That day was very special for me, because after five minutes I was taking care of him to be, you know, safe, to have his head, you know, bend over the chair, sit him quite on the...
LEANDER PAES:  Dr.Stepanek.
RADEK STEPANEK:  Dr.Stepanek was on duty.  Suddenly I feel comfortable that he's there and we wait for doctor to help.  Actually was not needed in the time already.  (Laughing.)
And in the semifinal, security girl was standing by the court.  She passed away.
LEANDER PAES:  Passed out.
RADEK STEPANEK:  Passed out.
LEANDER PAES:  It's only English.
RADEK STEPANEK:  She passed out.  So Leander's coach said, Come here.  Come here.  Somebody passed out here.
So, you know, I just ran there again, see what happened, ran for another water, towel, ice, you know, everything, then check up Lee again, if he's doing fine, then back to this girl.
We took quite a long time to get help for her, but, you know, her heart stopped twice during those five or ten minutes.  They brought her back.  I know she was fine.  It was great news.
But that was very rare moment what's happening on the court, you know, in the same time.  But was happy that my partner and the girl were all right and we have been able to finish the match.
LEANDER PAES:  For me, there were two moments.  One was a conversation that Radek and myself had in Rome this year.  Normally at the end of every year we sit down and we plan our schedule for the next year, and we plan which tournaments we want to peak at.
Instinctively last year we didn't do that, and I think karma, which I believe in a lot, had a lot to play.  We never knew the year Radek and myself were going to have.  I think if we had laid those plans out in November they would have been turned upside down.
But this year in Rome we had a conversation, and we chose to persevere.  We chose to try and make Masters and try and win the Masters and try and win a Grand Slam.  That was one moment, that conversation we had in Radek's room about setting our plans, setting our goals where we want to peak.
The second one was early morning in Eastbourne.  It was my birthday that day, and I only had Radek around.  I didn't have anybody from my team around for different reasons that they had responsibilities.  I normally have my daughter with me at my birthday.  That's a pact I made to myself, unfortunately this year I couldn't have her there.
It was early in the morning.  I can't remember exactly what time.  It was cold, it was drizzling, it was wet.  I was very lonely and very sad.
But Radek woke me up, and we went for a run on the beach, like we did every morning.  At 40, at 30, at 100, no matter what your age is, when you have that team right there, you have that comrade there, you have that brother there, you go and do your simple daily chores, simple daily things.
And when you know you have someone in your corner like him and we share that, that gives me my magic on the court.  That gives me the magic that no matter what happened to my nose, no matter what happened to my backhand or what happens to my serve, I will put my heart and body on the line for him any time.
It was that early morning run in Eastbourne.

Q.  Leander, you share with us a lot of inspiring words of wisdom, but have you always been like that, always, you know, from your upbringing and everything you believe, or as you mature, do you think you could understand certain things that along the years you kind of didn't get it, even though you had tremendous, you know, success your entire career?
LEANDER PAES:  I think my individual personality has always been the same since I was a little boy.  I was nurtured by two beautiful parents, Olympians in their own right.  Great athletes.  They were the most wonderful parents.  I was very blessed to have parents that I do.
I have two elder sisters who always kept me in line.  I think having two elder women in the house‑‑ women are a lot more intuitive and sensitive in some ways.  They taught me a lot as a young boy.
My personality like this has always been like that.  I think that my aggression on the tennis court sometimes gets misconstrued.  I think someone who doesn't know me so well, when they come out and see how hard I compete or see how hard I fight at my team...
You hit Radek with the ball anywhere on his body, could be his left toe, and I'm coming after him.  Hit me, don't hit him.  You play as a team.  Don't pick on my partner.  That's the aggression I play with.
When I get on the court, my respect for my opponents are so much that I will put my best every single point, every single shot.  That comes out of respect for the game.  That comes out of respect for your opponents, a lot of respect for your partner.  He's putting himself on the line.  He's playing singles and doubles.  You have to go out there and respect that.
I think at the end of the day life is beautiful.  I think that there are hardships in life.  I think we all go through hardships.  I think we all go through adversity.
But if we look around us and we see the economy we live in, we look around us in the world, everyone is looking for the same things, looking for a bit of love, looking for financial stability, looking to wake up every morning to have some sort of passion to execute on a daily life.
So, I mean, for me, I appreciate you guys for what you all do for us.  You help us reach billions of fans around the world.  My phone is buzzing right now going nuts in my pocket while I'm talking to you.  Radek had some 50 plus messages.
You guys do something really special for us, especially as athletes who have been around for so long, to help us reach our fans, and I thank you for that.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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