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Doing the right things at the right moment

Since the time I woke up on Sunday morning, I felt very positive. I knew this was going to be Martina's and my day and that we would actually be doing something big at The Championships.
PTI | By Leander Paes, London
PUBLISHED ON JUL 07, 2003 11:45 PM IST

Since the time I woke up on Sunday morning, I felt very positive. I knew this was going to be Martina's and my day and that we would actually be doing something big at The Championships.

As my car drove in through the gates, it was hard for me not to think about what it was going to be like. I knew we had two matches to play if we were to win the title, but I was thinking more about what the atmosphere would be like on Centre Court.

Sunday was very special. I had gone to take a look at the quarter-final match, which Todd Woodbridge was playing with his partner. When you do such things, the planning becomes much more easy. Martina and I do discuss strategy, before we step on court as well as during the play.

Doubles is all about executing plans and doing the right things at the right moment. A few small errors, and it's all over. Before I went for my first match, I did my usual stuff like yoga, stretched the muscles and chatted with Martina. Her experience is a huge factor whenever we play. We know the way things will happen on court.

By the time we were through with the semi-final, I was a bit low on energy. At one point before closing it out, I felt dizzy. I had to go and towel on the chair and come back to finish the match.

Martina and I spent a lot of time together before the final. We had our team around us and they created positive energy.  Martina had her coaches and friends and I had my own camp with my trainer. We had some pasta to eat, tried to stay relaxed and then saw the ladies’ doubles final on TV in the locker room. Once on court for the final against Andy Ram and Rodianova, I was bubbling with energy. I knew this was going to be Martina's day, winning her 20th Wimbledon title and me a vehicle for her to achieve greatness.

The emotion, which goes into a match like this, is huge. Centre Court is a great place to be in and when you see them cheering for you, its a fantastic feeling. From the first ball in play, when I hit a backhand chip, I knew things were going our way.

Ram and Rodianova were going to target Martina and I had to be prepared for it. There are some unwritten rules in mixed doubles, like men going for the smashes and running as much as possible for the ball. At one point, there was such a long rally, I had to stretch and kill the ball with the overhead smash.

As the match wore on, Martina and I kept talking. The moment was coming and I knew from morning it was going to be very special. When we finally won, what joy!!! I have seen great moments like this before when I won a medal at the Atlanta Olympics, when I won my junior Wimbledon title and then when I won the mixed doubles and men's doubles in 1999. But to be winning with Martina at Wimbledon was just too much.

She was my idol when I was young and to be sharing the court with her is like being part of her greatness. I had written last week nobody should be surprised if we win. We have done it and I can tell you we are going to be fired up for the US Open.

I was even happier on Sunday to see young Sania Mirza win the girls' doubles title. It's after 13 years that we have had an Indian junior win a Grand Slam title. I have seen Sania and played with her at the Asian Games. She is talented and I want to see her do well in singles as well. A win like this is surely going to boost her confidence. Keep it going Sania!!

I am happy that Roger Federer clinched the men's singles title. Federer is an outstanding player. He served big, volleyed well and the selection of his shots makes him very attractive to watch. Federer's style impresses me. Not only can he play at the net, he has the variety to tackle even the baseliners as well. I am sure we will see Federer win more in coming years.

As I made my way out of the All England Club, it was hard not to feel nostalgic. To be winning with a legend like Martina, I could not have hoped for the fortnight to end a better way.

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