New York: Having won his third US Open doubles title here on Sunday, all with Czech partners, 40-year-old Leander Paes acknowledged Radek Stepanek’s resilience as he came back strongly from a surgery to treat a neck injury early this year.
The following are excerpts
Leander Paes: I think the greatest advice that I could give someone, who is looking for a good doubles partner, is find someone from the Czech Republic. They work really hard… They play hard… I have got to thank him for a great couple of weeks. We have had a tough start to the year. He had gone through a lot of adversities this year.
And the way that he has come back and persevered his game is really commendable… To come out of injury in this fashion is laudable. He has shown a lot of character. And it feels amazing to stand here as the US Open doubles champion. I am grateful to him...
I want to thank my family and friends for keeping faith in me for all these years. I want to dedicate the trophy to Richard Leach… He is a great coach and we shared a lot of special moments together.
Radek Stepanek: When I suffered the neck injury, I really didn’t know whether I could ever come back and play the game. So to become a doubles champion in a Grand Slam is unbelievable…
I had a spinal surgery… But then, I believed in my game and my abilities. I thank Leander for supporting me in that tough phase.
He could have easily found another partner. But he stood in my corner and patiently waited for me to recover. That’s what makes our friendship special.
Bruno Soares: These two weeks have been the most amazing weeks of my life. We didn’t even hope to make it to the US Open final when the tournament started. So we are more than happy to reach here. Hopefully, we will come back here again next year and reach the final and take another step further. Paes and Stepanek were brilliant today. We lost to their experience.
Alexander Peya: This was our first Grand Slam final. We have played really well to reach this far. And there is no shame in losing in the final to Paes and Stepanek. They played like champions and proved to be the best.
I sustained back injuries earlier this year. There was a recurrence of the injury in the US Open semi-final. On Sunday, during the second set, something snapped again in my back… I think I pulled a muscle. Hopefully, I will attain fitness in three weeks’ time.