New Delhi: India`s Leander Paes today described his 12th Grand Slam title triumph at the Wimbledon mixed doubles as a "wonderful" feeling which holds a "special" place in his heart.
"It is wonderful to be in my 23rd Grand Slam final. It is a lot of fun. Days like these reminds me what hard work is all about. It is really special," Paes said.
Paes notched up his 12th Grand Slam title when he and his Zimbabwean partner Cara Black clinched the Wimbledon mixed doubles crown after defeating South African-American pair of Wesley Moodie and Lisa Raymond 6-4, 7-6 (5) late last night.
With this win, Paes now have 12 Grand Slam titles – six men`s doubles and six mixed doubles Grand Slam crowns – one more than his one-time doubles partner and fellow Indian Mahesh Bhupathi.
"It has been 20 years since I first won the junior singles at Wimbledon and even after all these years, it is really sweet to stand out there with a trophy in your hand when you are almost doubly 19," the 37-year-old told a newschannel.
Paes and Black had won the Australian Open in January this year and the Indian said the Zimbabwean was one of his favourite mixed doubles partners.
"Cara is one of my favourite partners to play with. She is not only a true champion but also a very good human being that I have met. Martina Navratilova was also a fantastic partner. I have been lucky to have good partners.
"In fact, I played against one of my first partners Lisa Raymond. We have played on centre court in 1999. So it was bitter out there to see Lisa`s face when we shook hands after the match," Paes said.
Asked about the turning point of the final match, Paes said it came during the tie-break when they were down 4-5.
"We we got into the second set and were 5-2 down in the tie-breaker we really wanted to turn it around because once we get into the third set it would have been a real scrap battle," he said.
"I think one point which really stand out was when we were 4-5 down and I was serving and I came in and played a volley to Wesley and he had a backhand to hit for a winner down my line, so I had to cover a lot.
"He then flicked a lob over Cara`s head which missed the baseline by about two inches and I think that could have turned the match in a completely different way," he added.
Paes thanked his fans for motivating him to keep going and hoped they would keep inspiring him during the Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and US Open.
"Call it patriotism or whatever, I just try to entertain my fans. It is you that keep me going and I hope during the Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and US open, they will keep motivating me to raise the bar. So that I try to play with all my heart," he said.