Leander Paes and his Czech partner Lukas Dlouhy are just one step away from winning back-to-back French Open men's doubles titles after they stormed into the final with a straight-set victory over Julian Knowle and Andy Ram. The third-seeded Indo-Czech duo defeated their 10th seeded opponents 6-4, 6-2 in a lop-sided semifinal match that lasted 75 minutes at Roland Garros.
“Today was an easy day in office. Things came together for us. Lukas is playing unbelievable now. We didn’t come into this tournament with a great time on clay (2nd round losses at Barcelona and Monte Carlo with a quarters and semis in Rome and Madrid). But now we have our rhythm going just right,” said Paes.
If Paes and Dlouhy win the final match against the second-seeded duo of Daniel Nestor of Canada and Nenad Zimonjic of Serbia, it would be the fourth French Open men’s doubles title for the Indian. Paes has already won the title in 1999 and 2001 (both with Mahesh Bhupathi) and then with Dlouhy in 2009. With six men’s doubles and five mixed doubles Grand Slam crowns, Paes will become the Indian with most Grand Slam triumphs with 12 titles.
Just what has he been doing to stay relaxed with all the hectic rescheduling due to the rain breaks at this year’s Open? “Watching movies. Saw Iron Man II and the new Robin Hood. The first week was very hectic but then that does help those with experience.”
Paes is wary of their opponents in the final. “We have had our ups and downs with this pair. In fact they beat us in the Madrid semis but then we had beaten them in the semis here last year. That’s the match we will be thinking about for our pre-match mental preparation. Lukas has got his strokes going now and I will anchor us on the net. It’ll be an interesting contest, for sure.”
Paes and Dlouhy made a rollicking start, breaking their opponents' serve in the first game and then held their own to surge 2-0 ahead. The defending champions then broke Knowle-Ram in the seventh game to go 5-2 up and wrapped up the first set 6-4 in 37 minutes.
As the second set progressed, Paes and Dlouhy did not show any complacency and won five games in a row by breaking their opponents in the first, third and fifth games to go 5-0 up in the second set. Knowle and Ram made a late comeback but Paes and Dlouhy won the second set 6-2 in 38 minutes to pocket the match comfortably.