2013 champions Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek in action during the men's doubles final.
© Philip Hall
By McCarton Ackerman
WHAT HAPPENED: In one of the most lopsided men’s doubles finals in US Open history, No. 4 seeds Leander Paes of India and Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic wasted zero time against No. 2 seeds Alexander Peya of Austria and Bruno Soares of Brazil. Playing some of their best tennis of the tournament, Paes and Stepanek breezed through to the title with a 6-1, 6-3 win.
"I think the best advice I can give to anyone for doubles is get a partner from the Czech Republic," joked Paes, whose two previous US Open men's doubles titles in 2006 and 2009 came with Czech partners. "They work hard, and that's what Radek did today. I have to give a big shout out to my partner."
Appearing tense and nervous in their first Grand Slam men’s doubles final, Peya and Soares hit twice as many unforced errors to winners in the opening set. A routine forehand volley dumped into the net by Soares sent them down an early break of serve, while Peya found himself down 0-40 in their next service game. A strong return of serve by Stepanek sealed the break, and the Indian-Czech pair took a 4-0 lead. Peya managed to avoid a bagel by holding serve at 0-5, but Paes comfortably held serve in the next game to close things out. Paes and Stepanek made good on all three of their break point chances in the opening stanza.
Things didn’t get much better for Peya and Soares in the second set. A double fault by Peya sent them down an early break of serve, after which Paes saved a break point opportunity in the next game with a forehand volley winner. With Peya serving at 1-3, the Austrian’s back appeared to go out and he received a lengthy medical timeout. He appeared unable to arch his back afterwards, but still managed to hold serve for the first time. Unfortunately, the hold was a moral victory at best. The No. 4 seeds continued to hold serve easily and broke the injured Peya once more at 3-5, then Paes rifled one final volley winner to clinch the title.
Paes and Stepanek hit 23 winners 10 errors on the day overall, while Peya and Soares struggled with eight winners and 12 errors.
WHAT IT MEANS: The winners will split $460,000 for winning the men’s doubles title this year. This is the first US Open title for Stepanek and the eighth Grand Slam men's doubles title for Paes, as well as his 14th Slam overall.
The Indian-Czech pair also leap from No. 22 to No. 4 in the Emirates ATP Doubles Team race to London and now seem like a sure bet to qualify for the season-ending championships. Stepanek is also projected to rise to No. 5 in the ATP World Tour doubles rankings, while Paes is projected to move up to No. 6. Peya and Soares will remain at No. 3 and No. 4, respectively.
THE QUESTION: Where do the vets go from here?