Paris, May 7: (IANS): India’s Leander Paes and Czech Lukas Dlouhy rallied from a set down to overpower South African Wesley Moodie and Belgian Dick Norman to clinch the French Open men’s doubles title at the Roland Garros here on Saturday for their first Grand Slam title together.
Third-seeded Paes and Dlouhy won 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 to triumph in an hour and 40 minutes. Paes, who will celebrate his 36th birthday June 17, could not have hoped for a better gift as he clinched his third French Open doubles title and fifth overall.
The Indian’s previous win here came with compatriot Mahesh Bhupathi (1999, 2001). He also won Wimbledon (Bhupathi, 1999) and the US Open (Martin Damm, 2006).
Overall this was Paes’ ninth Grand Slam title, which includes four mixed doubles crowns. His mixed doubles title have come with Lisa Raymond (Wimbledon, 1999) Martina Navratilova (Australian Open 2003 and Wimbledon, 2003) and Cara Black (US Open, 2008). For Dlouhy, who is 10 years Paes’ junior, it was his first Grand Slam title. He was runner-up in 2007 with Pavel Vizner. The Indo-Czech pair first joined forces at Roland Garros last season, reaching their first major final at the US Open last September when they finished runners-up to Bob and Mike Bryan.
They won their first ATP World Tour title at Bangkok in October 2008 and were runners-up at three other tournaments, most recently at Rotterdam in February where they lost to Ninad Zimonjic and Daniel Nestor. “We began as a team exactly a year back. It has been a very special week for us. When we lost last time, we were determined to come back and win here. Thanks to all the Indians supporters who came here and cheered for us,” Paes said.
Paes and Dlouhy, who upset top seeds Zimonjic and Nestor in the semifinal, were broken early to go 0-3 down in the first set. They staged a fightback in the second and were cruising 5-0 before Norman held. Paes was serving for the set in the seventh game but dropped his serve to make it 5-2.
Dlouhy then held his serve to make it a set-all.
In the decider, Paes and Dlouhy broke Moody twice for a 5-2 lead, with the Indian coming up with a clutch of superb returns at the net. Serving for the championship, Paes wrapped the set and the match with an ace. The Indian ran up to hug his former mixed doubles partner and good friend Navratilova in the stands after the win. “I want to thank Martina for giving me strength in the third set,” Paes said.
Paes praised his opponents for giving them a tough fight. “They served really big and made it tough for us,” he said.