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Olympics on mind, Paes chugs on

sports Updated: Jan 28, 2012 00:17 IST
Sania Mirza

Leander Paes is in line to win two Slam titles as he and Elena Vesnina reached the mixed doubles summit clash even as Sania Mirza and Mahesh Bhupathi bowed out after their semifinal defeat at the Australian Open, on Friday.

Fifth seeds Paes and Vesnina came from behind to tame a fighting Italian pair of Roberta Vinci and Daniele Bracciali 5-7, 6-2, 10-7 in the semifinals. Paes has already made it to the men's doubles final with Czech partner Radek Stepanek and they face top seeds Americans Bob and Mike Bryan on Saturday.

The 38-year-old just seems to keep going on. "Now, I am set to have a silver jubilee as far as Grand Slam final appearances go," he laughs saying that the mixed doubles final on Sunday will be his 25th such outing.

"It's good to start the year on such a strong note what with this being an Olympics year, there is special motivation to get into the right gear early. A head start allows one to prepare for the Games without being overtly bothered about defending points," said Paes who was runners-up in the last edition with Bhupathi.

The scratch pairing with Stepanek, Paes had to partner the Czech in a bit of a rush as plans with Rohan Bopanna did not work out, seems to have hit the court running in their very first outing of the year. "It's amazing how well Radek is shaping up to doubles. It's been a great show from him.""

Paes is also keen to make up to his mixed partner. "Last year we were in the semis of the US Open when I had to pull out. I really want to aid her win her first Slam. The last time I managed two wins at a Slam was at Wimbledon in 1999. I will really push myself to try and accomplish the same this weekend."

Meanwhile, the sixth seeded Sania-Bhupathi`s campaign ended after they lost 3-6, 3-6 to the eighth seeded combo of Bethanie Mattek-Sands of the United States and Romania's Horia Tecau in just 68 minutes.