Saturday, September 6, 2008

U.S. Open Interview - Leander Paes and Cara Black

(Transcribed interview with 2008 Mixed Doubles champions Leander Paes and Cara Black from the U.S. Open website)

Congratulations to both of you. Just one after the other, tell me how you felt. Tell me how you saved a few set points in the first set.
CARA BLACK: Yeah, it was really tough today. It was tough for me coming out to play against Liezel, I think that was really tough, but, you know, Leander was so good with me, and he was just calmed me a lot, and, you know, said he's got my back at all times, and there was nothing better for him to have said. So that was great.

Leander, are you guys going to continue the collaboration? Have you thought about that?
LEANDER PAES: Yes, we actually talked about it before we even started this week, that we're going to play together all of next year.
For me, no matter what the result this week would have been, I would stick with Cara and play with her through the year.
The real joy for me to find a partner like her is to find someone who's positive, who's professional, and no matter what the score is is giving her best effort.
Today, really, I think she won the match for us. At 6‑4 in the tiebreak, she made an unbelievable reflex volley to break the guy's serve at 6‑5, and then at 6‑5 on the second serve I couldn't get to the ball, and she made another unbelievable forehand volley up the line, and Jamie took it a little easy on us. He tried to play a topspin volley instead of putting it away.
So I think at that stage, Cara really broke back and won that set for us. And to play with her is a treat, you know. I think that being our first week, we figured each other's games out. She knows she's got to do everything. I just have to sit and watch.
CARA BLACK: That's a lie.

Who came to see the other? Who made the first move to try to play?
CARA BLACK: We both have been talking about ‑‑ yeah, it was a pretty mutual, coming together. I think Leander had spoken to my husband, and, yeah, they've kind of been talking on and off.
LEANDER PAES: He played hard to get.
CARA BLACK: He's very protective.

You were talking about it a few days ago that you found a new‑found motivation, your two‑and‑a‑half year‑old daughter. In the back of your mind, you still play for her, but do you think now that you're chasing that only title that you don't have that has alluded you now, the Australian Open doubles champion in men's? Is it in the back of your mind?
LEANDER PAES: You know, today it was in the back of my mind that I hadn't won this one. I've been in two finals here. I was match point up in one of them with Lisa Raymond many years ago, and today I woke up this morning with a purpose.
I woke up this morning really fired up, and when I came out to practice, I just said to Cara, you know ‑‑ I knew she's always got my back, and that's the great thing about her. I needed to let her to know that I've got her back.
Whether it's the US Open, Australian Open, French Open, it doesn't matter. I've always got her back. I've won the Australian twice. I've won Wimbledon twice. Never won the French. I've been in the finals there. That's the only Grand Slam I haven't won yet, and I hope Cara and myself can do that next year.

The men's doubles in Australia, you've never won it?
LEANDER PAES: No, I haven't won that. No.

Should you win those titles that have alluded you, how do you call it, a Super Grand Slam?
LEANDER PAES: Call it what you want. It's just another tournament for me.
CARA BLACK: Career Slam.
LEANDER PAES: At 35, I'm just blessed to have such a great career. I'm blessed to have a team of people who we all enjoy ourselves: Cara's husband, Moose, is a great motivation. The few things he tells us when we go out to play makes a big difference, like in the quarterfinals and the semifinals, to have a partner like her, to have my team there, the guys all over just supporting our team.
This is our life. This is what we kind of live every single day. So it's just you guys that report the big tournaments but even when we play the small tournaments, it's about going there and having fun and giving our hearts out every time we play, and that's what life's about for me.

Are you going to practice in your off‑season together at your own location, or ‑‑ are you going to practice...
CARA BLACK: We haven't thought about that.
LEANDER PAES: We might think of that.

One more question to you: How far do you still want to play? I mean, you talked about it...
LEANDER PAES: It's fairly simple for me. If I wake up 31 days in a row in the morning and I feel like I don't enjoy this game, I'll stop on the 32nd day. That's always been the way for me.

You were in the first tiebreaker first set, you were down 3‑5. You made a great volley to 4‑5, 5‑6, 6‑6, 7‑6. How was the feeling after you made a great shot?
CARA BLACK: It was amazing to pull that set out. I think I struggled to put quite a few returns in.
Leander was great. He was getting it back for me all the time, but we just got down that one break and that mini break in the tiebreak, but ‑‑ yeah, it was ‑‑ it was all reaction, you know.
After coming through, after being ‑‑ what was it? 6‑4? Yeah, 6‑4 down. To pull that through that set when you just didn't expect it was amazing and really gave us a huge lift.

How does it feel to have, on the other side of the court, your doubles partner?
LEANDER PAES: Leander is amazing. You're not going to find anyone with quicker hands and such magic flying around that court. It's such a joy to play with him.
No, I think we are ‑‑ I'm very blessed to have him there by my side.

So mixed doubles, doubles. Do you prefer ‑‑ any preference?
CARA BLACK: They're totally different, you know. But, yeah, I do prefer mixed, because then Leander can do all the work.
LEANDER PAES: She says she's playing with two girls

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