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September 5, 2013

Leander Paes

Radek Stepanek


3‑6, 6‑3, 6‑4

THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  Congratulations.  Not to get away from what you guys did, but just looking back on what the Bryans accomplished, pretty remarkable.  Leander, you paid great tribute to him out on the court.  You know how hard it is to win.  Just talk about what they have been able to do.
LEANDER PAES:  Like I said out there, I have tremendous respect for the boys.  They are great champions, great ambassadors for the game.
Just the record that they have even before this year shows how great they are as a team.  What they have done this year is something really special.
In one context, going out there to play today we knew we were playing for our year.  We were playing to accomplish what we needed to.  I will get into that a little later in this conversation about what Radek has done this whole year in preparing himself coming back from a few adversities himself.
But for the boys, I tip my hat to them for the year they have had.  Always have respect for them, for their coach who does a great job for them scouting matches getting them ready.  Really special what they have done.
It's really unfortunate they have come just two matches short.  I think that would have been a perfect year if they had gone through that, you know.

Q.  Talk about just your thoughts about getting through and getting on to the final.
LEANDER PAES:  I can't say enough about my partner.  We have got a little bit more work to do this week, but what he has been through this year, both him and I know.  For me that will come with me to my grave, and I will always be with him in his corner no matter where we go in our lives, no matter what we do.
I think that's what gives us strength on the court.  As some of you know in the media, Radek had an injury in the Australian Open, went through spinal surgery in his neck, and has got a few little battle wounds right now to show for it.
He looks as tough as anybody, but the way he's recovered, the way he's done his rehab, the way he's stayed with it, to me, along with some other adversities this year, shows off a great champion that he is.
Beginning of the year when he got injured I got lots of phone calls to play with other guys, but that's not what you do.  What you do is you stand by your partner.  I have tremendous belief in him, and he's really shown that belief coming good.
So like I said, we've got a little bit more work to do this week, but I'm very proud of the partner I share the court with.  He's probably the best partner I have had.  I really enjoy playing with him.

Q.  Leander, this is your 20th US Open this year, so if you could just talk a little bit about some of your favorite US Open memories beyond the doubles titles with Lukas and with Cara, are there any matches you remember in particular where the crowd really pulled you through, where it was a great night session or something like that?
LEANDER PAES:  You know, I played the finals on the Grandstand Court, which I believe this is the last year we will have that court.  Not 100% certain on that.
But played the juniors singles final.  I remember Wilt Chamberlain was watching.  My father was out there.  There was a packed stadium.  I was a young little Indian kid coming from Calcutta who was trying to see whether I could still make it on the pro tour.
Playing that final here, that whole year there was some amazing experiences.  I took the No. 6 train from Grand Central into Queen's.  My father was trying to make a man out of me and put me on a train going out to train with the Colombia team down on 283rd Street where they have the practice site.
Thank God that was the only time I had to make that ride.  NewYork is a great city.  The culture, the melting pot of society, what NewYork stands for, the resilience that the people have here in the city is phenomenal.
I was actually in the Twin Towers, the basement, the night before it went down.  I still have a receipt from ‑‑they had a store down there I bought some khaki pants from, and I was there after a mixed doubles final.
I went there to get down to Jersey, so I took the PATH train to Jersey, dropped my bags off.  I was going back to India for a birthday for three days before come back to Winston‑Salem Davis Cup.
So I was there literally less than 12 hours, probably 10 hours before it happened.  The resilience that NewYorker's show is the reason I love this city.  I have lived here for few years, four‑and‑a‑half to be exact.  I love this city.  It's awesome.

Q.  You were out of NewYork?
LEANDER PAES:  I was midair.  Took off from JFK that night and I was midair, landed in Frankfurt on a Delta Airways at that point.  In the morning.  And I remember the airport duty manager of Delta, top security guy, came in and said, You come with us, sir.
I'm like, Now what I have done?  They took me to the site.  Didn't explain.  They put me on a special plane going to Bombay.  When I landed at Mumbai, I figured out what happened.
Another interesting thing is Radek wears this NewYork shirt.  He's got a track suit on right now, but he wears the shirt with New York City.  It's our little tribute to Gotham and the people here and what they stand for.  The shirt is a pretty cool shirt.

Q.  You know, you guys have been on the tour for a long time and you have losses and wins.  You were playing, you know, your best tennis.  You guys are very strong with a chance to do something special here also one more time.  Do you think tennis‑‑ like Radek has been through that and you have gone through these things, do you think tennis, the way you guys play, does it make you resilient and understand what other people go through, losses and defeats?
RADEK STEPANEK:  I think so.  And also, what we are going through sometimes in our tennis lives, it's, you know, every week different.  Our lives, you know, are very different to normal people, I would say, because, you know, we are traveling the world every week.  We are on the‑‑ in a different city sleeping in different beds.
You know, I always say when I see a lot of guys finishing their career that the transformation to a normal life is very different for a lot of athletes, because I think we are very privileged for the life we have on the tour.
You know, the transition then is very difficult.  We are trying always stay, you know, humble and stay in the real life.  Our partnership is based on our endless friendship, and, you know, that's something which I will carry with me for the rest of my life.
We're gonna stay close as brothers.  You know, that's one of the nicest things tennis is giving us.

Q.  I was going to ask about the shirt so I am glad you brought it up.  This is a big center court for your personal style, Radek.  This shirt, last year's shirt, can you talk by a little bit about your philosophy and are you a fashion icon in tennis?
RADEK STEPANEK:  You know, I think compared to the other guys I have a privilege with my company that I can do whatever I want.  They give me the freedom to wear what I want, because when you see those guys, they have their shirts which came in the bag, you know, and they have to play in them.
I have the chance to be creative, to show my emotions, to show my feelings, you know, with what I'm wearing.  And to play in NewYork it's always special, you know.  It's a little crazy.  It's very entertaining.
So I'm wearing different shirt here.  You know, since last year when I wore the shirt with the Statue of Liberty there and when I came on the court, you know, the support was tremendous, you know.
I said, Wow, you know, it feels nice.  They had a lot of orders immediately after my match.  So I said, It's something which is entertaining.  I think can think of doing something else this year.  This came up ‑‑my ideas, they come always very spontaneously with the way I feel.  And, yeah, that's it.

Q.  Some of the players on tour who have been on for more than 15 years, like Max Mirnyi, Daniel Nestor, they have said this week they take their career on a month‑by‑month basis at this point.  Do you feel that way as well, or do you feel if I'm reaching US Open finals how do I ever stop?
LEANDER PAES:  I think Radek just answered that.  I take it Olympic by Olympic basis.
RADEK STEPANEK:  I give him one out.  I believe for last six, seven months Lee's talking about how he's going to get ready for the Olympics in Rio.  I think that's the answer for your question.

Q.  I just would like to ask you the question by question for both of you.  I appreciate if you can say what kind of feeling you had before the game because the stakes were so high, beating the Bryans at home, at their house, you know, stopping the great achievement, making the Grand Slam.  Leander, you have played a lot of finals here; couple of finals you have won.  Helping Radek to the final and playing one of your closest partners to the final, beating the Bryans at their home, so what kind of feeling, emotion, for the game you had?
LEANDER PAES:  Thank God I didn't think as much you think.  I'm not so smart.  For me it was just about getting first serves in, making returns, keeping my partner happy, and playing hard.
I think that most youngsters, when they come to play, they are smart.  They think like that, and they have no clue how to hit the ball.
For us, it's about muscle memory.  It's what we do every day.  Like Radek said in his first answer, we do this every single day.  It's a different life we lead.  After the match, I went up to the gym and did my work; Radek is going to practice at 5:30 with Djokovic.  He's doing his work.
This is our lives.  We are so privileged to have the life we have that we go to work every day.  Like someone goes to an office, works 9:00 to 5:00, they come home, they have little time with their family.  You guys have longer hours than us.
You come here one hour before we even get here, before the first match, and you leave one hour after the last match.  I come for my match, Radek come for his match.  Your lives are tough.
I think in this economy around the world that we have, we are very privileged to do what we do.  So for us, today, before the match, we concentrate on our match.  We go there.  I know if my return is working, first serve working, it's going to be tough for the other guys.
First set the twins served really well.  They served 90‑plus% in, no unforced errors.  We have to keep finding a way, and that's what we do really well.  Radek and myself, we fight for each other.  We find a way.  Every day we are looking to be our best, and that's the magic.

Q.  I want to ask you two things.  First of all, the first set was so fast and kind of ugly for you.  How do you pull yourself out of that.  The other question is you wouldn't fit in this category, but are there some teams that walk out there against the Bryan brothers and the match is already kind of lost before it starts just because of their reputation?
LEANDER PAES:  Great questions.  To answer the first one, I think it's about understanding what our magic is.  It's about understanding our own strengths and weaknesses, and then on every day that we play a new opponent what strategy we need to play them.
Today I told Radek something before the match that he'll remember, and he'll remember that for a long, long time.  Because when he does what he did, it's going to be very, very tough for any opponent to beat him, any opponent.  He's got a lot of skills, a lot of magic.  It's just about going to it.
To answer your second question, I think it's pretty much hand in glove.  It's what you do well.  That first set went out so fast.  It's just about finding a little door open.
For us, we're hungry.  We're very hungry.  Especially with the year we have had we're even more hungry.  You leave that door a little ajar, I will find my foot through it.  Once I get my foot through it, I got my body through it.  Once I get my body through it, I get him through it.
Once he gets his body through it, we both have our minds through it.  Leave that door a little ajar, we will find a way.  Margins are very slim in this sport.

Q.  You went to the gym.  He's going to practice with Novak.  We talk about Tommy Haas being 35.  You guys both are probably another one of the most fittest on the tour.  Can you talk about the fitness and how important‑‑ you look so strong there in the third set, both of you.
LEANDER PAES:  Thank you.
RADEK STEPANEK:  I think when you're talking about Tommy Haas, he's been through so many surgeries in his career, and, you know, I think he always came back so strong.  Now he's I think knocking on the door of top 10, you know, in the 35 years of age, which is an amazing story.
You know, you see him competing with the best ones, beating No. 1 guy in the world.  So it's, yeah, the fitness in our sport these days is very important.  I think compared to the past generations, the tennis got more athletic.  You don't see one player not moving well in the top of the rankings.
And as we said before, it's a job we do every day.  Every day if you're feeling physically stronger than the other one, you have an advantage.  So we have to look at our bodies.  You know, in our age you have to practice different.  Am I right?
RADEK STEPANEK:  It's not about anymore hitting the ball four, five, six hours, what we have done when we have been younger.  And, you know, it's just to find the right timing of when you have to practice hard, when you have to rest, when you have to take care of your body.
But I think we are more using our experience for that, and that's why we can still be here.

Q.  You're known as one of the great masters of the modern doubles game, a great student.  What did you tell Radek this morning?
LEANDER PAES:  Thank you for that, first.
You know, I think any student of life looks to improve every day.  And it doesn't matter how many Grand Slams you win, doesn't matter how many Olympics you play, but it's about every day doing something to improve, something‑‑ could be on the court, could be off the court.
With Radek, you don't have to tell him so much.  He's a master of the game.  His singles career, his doubles career, his Davis Cup career, his, you know, Grand Slam career, it all proves that.  His mind is as tough as nails.
So it's just about giving‑‑ guys like him, it's just about giving a direction on a day.  This morning I just gave him a little direction.  It was just one simple line that meant a lot.
The boys played a perfect first set that could have turned really quick in their favor, but we managed to come back in the second.  Especially after I got broken after the first break we had, we managed to find a way back to break again.
In those conditions at Arthur Ashe, which is so windy, to break them twice in the second and twice in the third takes a lot of doing.
If you actually look closely within the points, you look between the lines as to what he did out there, really, he hit the nail on the head today.  He executed his game plan perfectly.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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