Leander makes 21st Slam final | sports | Hindustan Times
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Leander makes 21st Slam final

sports Updated: Jan 29, 2010 23:38 IST

This is one story that keeps getting stranger as it unfolds. Leander Paes is 36 years old and has no business regularly figuring in the final stages of a Grand Slam. By now his forays into the last rounds should be few and far; they should be the final gasps of a great career coming to a close. Instead, the fellow notched up four Slam finals last year and two the year before — three of those ended with the trophy in his bag.

On Friday he clawed his way into his 21st Slam final partnering Zimbabwe's Cara Black with a 6-7, 7-6 (5), 10-7 win against seventh seeded Lisa Raymond and Wesley Moodie. “It got tough out there. At one moment we were cruising at 5-2 in the first with two breaks in the bag and soon enough we were a set and 0-3 down in the second!

“I just could not believe it as it was very similar to what happened in the Wimbledon final this year (Paes and Black blew away a 5-2 lead to cave in 5-7, 3-6),” Paes told HT after the match.

The pair also squandered a match point at 5-3 when Paes did not put away a simple backhand volley. “I went for a bit too much as I tried to lob it over them. The ball landed out by the smallest possible margin.” Down a set after being in command of it must have rankled. “That's the beauty of playing with Cara. She just does not know how to give up. Neither do I. So, we just dug in our heels and sure enough, the tide turned,” said Paes.

The partnership with Black is working well for Paes. “We have figured in four finals of the six slams that we have been partners.

“We have good chemistry and I am counting on that to get us through in the final.” The top seeds face Ekaterina Makarova of Russia and the Czech Jaroslav Levinsky in Sunday's encounter. "Makarova is on a roll and this is going to be one mixed doubles match where we will be more wary of the female," said Paes.