Sixth seeds Leander Paes and Martin Damm produced a near-flawless performance to outsmart second seeds Max Mirnyi and Jonas Bjorkman 6-7, 6-4, 6-3 and win the US Open men's doubles title on Saturday night.
"It has been really draining for me, physically and emotionally," Paes told HT after the match. "Last night, when we won the semi-final, it was almost 2 am in New York. My trainer had to work hard on me to get me fit. And on Saturday night, the final got over almost close to midnight. But the effort has been worth it. I thought Damm and I played solid tennis against a pair who give little away on a normal day."
The Indo-Czech pair's serving was of a high order — they committed just two double faults. In contrast, Mirnyi (Belarus) and Bjorkman (Sweden) rifled in nine double faults.
The opening set was a power struggle as neither pair dropped serve. But once into the tie-break, Paes and Damm lost it 5-7. It was doubles play at its best, with the 6 ft, 5 inch Mirnyi lunging at the net and executing some smart overhead shots. The reply from Leander was equally efficient, as he reeled off well set up points by poaching at the net. "I still feel my touch at the net is intact," said Paes.
In the second set, Paes was pumped up. Chest bumps with Damm got the adrenaline flowing and the duo nudged ahead smartly to win 6-4.
In the third set, Paes and Damm broke their opponents to go ahead 5-3, and then served it out 6-3. When Damm punched back an overhead for a sideline winner to secure the title, Paes jumped into his arms.
Having been runners-up twice earlier at the US Open, Paes was relieved at having broken the jinx. "It has been five years since I won a men's doubles title, and I am happy Damm and I clicked," said Paes.
Paes will take a week's break in the US and then come to India. "I think fans in Mumbai will be glad to see the US Open doubles champions play in the Mumbai ATP event from September 25," he said.