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Paes on cloud nine after Roland Garros victory

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Originally published on: 26/02/10 11:34

Leander Paes celebrated a ninth Grand Slam doubles title with victory in the men’s doubles final with partner Lukas Dlouhy, and immediately credited former playing partner and 20-time Wimbledon champion Martina Navratilova for boosting his career.

Paes and Dlouhy clinched the French Open title with a 3-6 6-3 6-2 win over Wes Moodie and Dick Norman.

It was the 35-year-old’s fifth Grand Slam men’s doubles title, and his third in Paris having won in 1999 and 2001 with compatriot Mahesh Bhupathi. He has also won four Grand Slam mixed doubles titles, including the 2003 Wimbledon and Australian Open trophies with Navratilova.

“Martina has been a soulmate for many years,” Paes told reporters after the victory. “We’ve been through a lot in life, especially me in the last eight years. She’s been along with me, supporting me, guiding me at times.

“When I was diagnosed with cancer and I couldn’t play, she basically stayed away from the game and didn’t play mixed doubles until I came back.”

“Whenever I look at a person like Navratilova, she gives me a lot of inspiration. It was strange that just at the end of the second set when we were getting a bit nervous and a bit edgy, she came out there and was just making eye contact.

“Lukas served three doubles faults early in the third set. I told him at one point, Martina is out there. Come on. Have a look at her. She’s inspiring us.”

The Indian was also full of praise for his opponents. “Dick and Wesley served really huge and made it difficult for us. They did a great job in getting to the final.”

Paes and Dlouhy first teamed up at Roland Garros last year, losing in the last 16 to eventual champions Pablo Cuevas and Luis Horna before reaching the final of the 2008 US Open final.

“We started playing together at Roland Garros last year,” Paes explained. “We lost then to the champions so we made it a point that we would come back and try and win it this year.”

Meanwhile in the women’s doubles, reigning champions Anabel Medina Garrigues and Virginia Ruano Pascual retained their title the trophy with a comprehensive victory against No.12 seeds Victoria Azarenka and Elena Vesnina 6-1 6-1.

35-year-old Ruano Pascual can now claim to be a six-time French Open doubles champ, having also titled here alongside Paola Suarez four times, along with three US Opens and an Australian Open title.

In the mixed doubles, Bob Bryan returned to defend his crown with Liezel Huber, defeating Vania King and Marcelo Melo 5-7 7-6(5) 10-7 to seal the title.

Its gotten better and better each time, Bryan said of his sixth mixed Grand Slam title after Thursday’s final. This was a way for me to feel good, you know, to leave here with a win, leave here with a trophy, big title and a Grand Slam.

In contrast, this was Huber’s first mixed doubles Grand Slam title, to add to the four womens doubles majors to her name.

Im so grateful for playing with Bob, she said. I truly think we wouldnt have won this title without him.

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