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An Interview With: Martina Hingis and Leander Paes (Final)

Friday, September 11, 2015

Q. Plenty to laugh and smile about. It was a great win out there today. Remarkable accomplishment for what you have done this season.

LEANDER PAES: Thank you very much.

MARTINA HINGIS: Thank you.

Q. Can you just talk about the match first and also about the three Grand Slams.

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, if we talk about the match we will be here tomorrow. (Laughter.)

Q. How good does it feel to get that one under your belt?

MARTINA HINGIS: I mean, it's awesome. Like I said before, once we started the year and, you know, to walk away with three Grand Slam titles this season, it's amazing. I signed that contract in a million years, right?

So it's incredible. I mean, like I said, I'm so lucky and fortunate to have Leander as a partner on my side. I know he has my back all day long. If I don't come up with a return but ten double faults, I get the point.

No, it's amazing the understanding we have for the game, like for each other, how we cover the court at the net, baseline, whatever works. Even one thing doesn't work we come with plan B or C like it was today.

They threw us off a little bit when they changed sides, you know, how they played better from each side, especially Bethanie. That's her usual side in doubles. She came up with some big points in big moments.

You know, we came -- we got it back at the end. 7-All. You have to really have the guts to go that return down the line and make the difference when it counts.

I think it was just a great match to play. I mean, they are both great champions. You know, Bethanie has two titles this year in doubles, mixed, a finals now. She can choose any partner, you know.

I feel like anybody we would face right now I just feel like we're almost invincible going on court. I think we have that extra point when we walk on court and we have a little bit of this aura that they have to try to come up with the best that they can to beat us.

Q. Leander, you have just become the winningest male mixed doubles player in Open history. Two part question, if I may. First, I'd like to know what are you most proud that you contribute to the mixed doubles team?

MARTINA HINGIS: Yes, I made you win the most titles.

Q. You tell us what he contributes the most. Of what are you most proud that you contribute to a mixed doubles team?

LEANDER PAES: Martina said something there in her answer there that was quite interesting. She said you have to have the guts to go after something, and I don't believe that I personally have the technique or the caliber of talent that Martina has.

One thing I do have is the guts. I will go for it. It's been part of -- my whole life is about perseverance, just trying to find a way to succeed. Sometimes the chips are against you; sometimes they fool you.

What I love about this teamwork, to answer your question, is that in any partnership there's got to be one person who brings the energy to the team. There's got to be one person who takes all the pressure on their shoulder and drives the team forward.

I know if I can keep Martina happy, if I can keep her relaxed, the tennis I don't even have to worry about. This young girl is phenomenal on the tennis court and off of it. We actually have our best times when we are on the practice court. Like yesterday, we were there yesterday.

We were on the practice court before the Australian Open. We were on for like two hours practicing for a final. I mean, just having fun. I learn a lot from her because --

MARTINA HINGIS: He's the only one on a day off that actually gets me actually out there. (Laughter.) I was like, Seriously? Do we have to play on a rainy day? I know with him I want to go because I know I'm going to have so much fun.

So this is the difference then, having to go to play or wanting to go to play. And with Leander, I know every time I'm happy to go and play and practice and just get better at the shots.

Like we are both perfectionists, so we just get the little extra and we know we can rely upon when we go on court and play that match.

Q. How much of that victory... Sorry.

MARTINA HINGIS: No, I cut him off. I'm sorry.

LEANDER PAES: It's so interesting that actually sometimes I have a reputation of not wanting to practice so much, but it's because the quality of practice is so good I don't have to do the same number of hours as others.

When we go out there and play for an hour, we are generally getting in a block of four or five hours of quality in that one hour, and it's not necessarily at our age of doing it so many years day in and day out. It's not the quantity that matters. It's the quality of that quantity that matters.

What I try to bring to the team is the energy, happiness, the fun, and throw the pressure on my shoulder. Martina just swings away and has fun with it.

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, you don't need that pressure every time at 7-All in the super-tiebreaker.

Q. Between the two of you you have won 36 slam titles. How much of that 36 Grand Slam title background was the contributing factor in today's victory?

LEANDER PAES: I think a lot of it. Personally I think that when you're down 1-4 in a match tiebreak or 2-5 in a match tiebreak the momentum has swung so much, but actually the momentum pivoted on two shots.

One on Bethanie's shot serve at 1-All in the second on a deuce point. She hit a backhand up my line and I crossed. And then one on Martina's serve at 30-40 and deuce. Bethanie picked up a backhand, low backhand volley up the line, one of the best volleys I have every seen a woman hit against me. It was phenomenal inside out. You see the guys do, but you don't see so many women do that.

The second set pivoted on those two shots. When we went in for a toilet break just to refresh our minds and strategy and just kind of get alert again, we said two things: one is Bethanie was not going to beat me up the line. That's the one thing Martina said. No chance. Two is we play to our strengths. We go after it.

And I think that when you look at the other side, I'm not quite sure what they are feeling because I'm not in their shoes. But what I see on them is their minds are thinking. They are thinking a lot.

I believe Sam served a tough one yesterday in the tiebreak, and he served another tough one today in the tiebreak, 5-4. For someone as phenomenally good on the serve like that, it's nothing to do with technique. It's just about the pressure situation. It's just about doing the right things at the right time.

That's what I try and do, is basically look at handling the pressure and playing the right shot at the right time.

Q. Now, having more mixed doubles titles than any man in the Open era, is there anything about your game that translates to doubles?

LEANDER PAES: I haven't thought about that. In the team sport it's all about the team. In a team sport I always put my teammates ahead of me. Always. No matter what happens, my team goes before me.

If we are going to meet the president, if we are at practice, if someone needs an extra time on the court, if the team's getting called on to the court, if we are at practice and even the mojo in the practice, my whole -- my whole being in a team is about my team.

If I get my team to perform better than and maximize their potential, then it makes my life easier. So I'm really focused on the team all the time. I know I will take care of myself.

MARTINA HINGIS: I have never had a partner as thoughtful of me, backing me up, as Leander. That's like he just said, first thing, he's like - what he said - make me happy. Do everything that I can to support you as a partner, and I know that 100%. Like if I do my things right, he's always going to protect me, no matter what I do. Just don't strategically do the wrong thing and I know I will be protected.

That's the biggest safety he gives me when I play my -- whether it's serve, whether the volleys, but positioning on the court and the understanding is no one like Leander. Never played doubles or mixed doubles or whatever -- I have never crossed anyone who thinks just like me.

Maybe Martina Navratilova. Maybe she's the only other athlete who has the same understanding for the game like Leander and myself. I think this is the big key and strength, because we don't have the biggest serves or returns and any of those shots, but we are stable and we do the basics as well as anybody.

So I think this is our biggest thing, is understanding for the game and creating angles and creating opportunities. That's what he's the best at.

Q. Next year there is a pretty big tournament that unfortunately you couldn't play with Leander, the Olympics.

MARTINA HINGIS: I feel quarter Indian already, though. No, but I think I have...

LEANDER PAES: The foreign affairs ministry might have a few things to do with that. No, I'm just kidding.

Q. You mentioned at Wimbledon that were going to see how things developed with Roger or Stan. How have things developed in the last couple of months, and when would you like to have that whole situation figured out?

MARTINA HINGIS: You ask the man. I always go back to that. Like I said, like my part, I would be very happy to play the Olympics. I asked Roger, I asked Stan, and, you know, I think we still have time. I feel like I am in a very luxury position to have had an opportunity to play with either Roger or Stan Wawrinka. So it's not a bad position to be in.

I think if it's gonna happen, great. The answer, sooner or later, eventually, it will happen, but I think they have bigger things to do right now than think of that.

Q. Martina, as a current Hall of Famer playing possibly with the future Hall of Famer, how does this win today compare to the wins before you became a Hall of Famer?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, it's like living it all over again but like more intense, much more intense. When I was here standing as a 16, 17 year old winning the finals in singles or doubles, it was like living in a fast stream.

Now it's like, Oh, I actually have time to enjoy it. Maybe my mom was like, Oh, you're going to have fun and have a nice dinner? What are you going to do? Probably have a drink or -- like now it's completely different. When you play singles you're like, Okay, next match, next tournament. I know I still have on Sunday another, you know, title to play for.

I mean, I want to be ready as much as I can. But it's a great feeling to already have one title in your pocket.

Q. So playing doubles, I mean, would that be some advice you would give the current top-ranked singles in terms of getting...

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, sometimes you see they play more and more. Whether it's in the women's or men's side, to play one, two matches, sometimes when they lose the singles they continue in the doubles. You see that more and more.

I think it's really something that keeps you ready. You know, because I think in doubles and mixed you have to play your spots. I mean, you don't have much space for missing opportunities, missing shots. You have to pick your targets.

In singles you have -- of course, it's much more physical, but you also have much more space. I think the pressure, it's also another thing. You have to put your serve -- you have to put your returns where you're supposed to. If you don't, you lose.

So I think it gives you a lot of things that it can help you for your singles games, and you can see like Vinci today, right? She wasn't scared to go in and take her opportunities and close out the match with two points at the net, right? Like two pickup-volleys that a singles player doesn't always do. She's got one of the greatest hands at the net. That's why she's able to do it on big points.

Q. Your victory is remarkable. You're only the second mixed doubles pair to win three of the four Grand Slams in a year. It hasn't been done since 1969.

MARTINA HINGIS: Martina probably I guess or...

No?

Q. May well have been.

LEANDER PAES: Could have been Billie?

MARTINA HINGIS: Billie Jean?

Q. '69. I think it was Margaret Court.

MARTINA HINGIS: I didn't know she played that much doubles.

LEANDER PAES: That's going back a bit.

MARTINA HINGIS: I would always be like Martina playing doubles, mixed doubles. She has 22, 24 titles, as well; 20 only at Wimbledon.

LEANDER PAES: That's so funny. I actually played with Martina at Wimbledon when she won her 21st. I was on my sixth, if I'm not mistaken, and I was so, like, Wow I'm on my sixth one. And I heard 21 Grand Slams, Martina Navratilova. I'm like, oops.

MARTINA HINGIS: I played with her in the Legends it was the same feeling. I'm like, yeah, I'm so proud of my titles, and then you hear 168 or something.

LEANDER PAES: If you think about it, if you look at this year, 2015, I feel pretty awesome having won three Grand Slams this year. But this young cat over here is going for a fifth one in one year. It's not a bad gig. If you actually think how many people live their wholes lives trying to win one Grand Slam. Through their whole career. Could be 10 years, 15 years.

I know some youngsters out there, like the boys in the men's doubles right now, Peers and Murray. They are already feeling the pressure in the locker room. How do you handle this, going for your 33rd Grand Slam final? They are trying for their first win. They got to Wimbledon final; this is their second fine.

If you think about it, the number of Grand Slams that she's won already this year, that's four already this year, going for a fifth. It's not a bad year, huh?

Q. You returned to the top in doubles this season.

MARTINA HINGIS: Can you speak louder?

Q. Two Italians, they reached their first Grand Slam finals. (Indiscernible.)

MARTINA HINGIS: We just talked about it this whole time, so I think it's really the experience and the smartness comes from -- I guess they were always great tennis players. Flavia Pennetta I played myself. I played doubles with her here and made finals last year.

LEANDER PAES: Who do you think is going to win?

MARTINA HINGIS: I don't know their head to head. We just talked about it in the locker room. I don't know their head to head, but right now I would pick Flavia over...

LEANDER PAES: Really? You don't think Vinci would have confidence after beating Serena coming in?

MARTINA HINGIS: I don't know.

Q. If I could just ask you to each comment on what it means to you as a team to have done what you have done in 2015.

MARTINA HINGIS: I don't understand the question.

LEANDER PAES: What does it feel like winning three mixed doubles, three out of all four this year? I tell you what it did for me. Interesting enough, today -- other than the French Open, today was the first match we have lost a set. We won the Australian Open without losing a set, which I thought was pretty phenomenal.

And then we go to Wimbledon and win that without losing a set. That was pretty cool.

I won't count it this week because we got two walkovers this week. That's kind of lucky.

But when we lost the second set today, our opponents had to do some amazing stuff to win that set. That's the fun part, is that not just winning with a trophy in hand, but the way that we have done it at the Australian Open and Wimbledon without losing a set is pretty special.

To go on and know that on a daily basis we are pushing our bodies, our minds, our team as a unit to just keep getting better every day to make it harder for our opponents. That's what 2016 is going to be like.

We keep working hard and keep each other happy, keep having fun with what we are doing. That means the base of what we are playing is just a very high level.

MARTINA HINGIS: Yeah, if you just feel in a comfort zone. Like when we walk on court, I feel like, yeah, no matter -- I mean, they will have to beat us and come out with some unbelievable shots like they did in the second set.

Bethanie definitely raised her level. That was the key to turn it around. I mean, she played some great shots and like key moments when we said before. But can she keep it for 10 points in a super-tiebreaker? That's another thing.

I think we were just -- our solid base is just so high that they have to overperform at some point, and that's what -- because our classic shots, our base, is just too good unless they are two champions to pull out some unbelievable shots.

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