Paes praises Stepanek for crucial role in Aus Open title

Melbourne: Indian tennis star Leander Paes had words of gratitude for his Czech partner Radek Stepanek for playing a crucial role in winning the Australian Open men`s doubles title on Saturday.

The title is Paes` 13th Slam overall and first with Stepanek, who is five years younger than the Indian at 33.

Paes said he told Stepanek that it was special to beat world number one pair of Mike and Bob Bryan.

"I have to thank my partner Radek for putting me on his shoulders and carrying me through the week. I have played five finals against the brothers and lost three and you know how it feels," Paes said after the win.

Paes acknowledged the prowess and talent of Bryans, who have dominated the doubles tennis consistently.

"I have highest regard for you guys (Bob and Mike). Great ambassadors of the game for the manner in which you conduct yourselves," he said

Paes also remembered all those who contributed in his illustrious career.

"To my daughter Aiyana and wife Rhea. Martina (Navratilova) for being such an inspiration and all the support staff," he said.

Stepanek, who won the first Grand Slam title today, was emotional after the win.

"It`s tough to add to what Leander has said. This was one title that was missing and I am happy that I was by your side when you won it. Also want to say `hi` to my wife Nicol and I would be back soon," he said.

Mike Bryan congratulated Paes for completing career Grand Slam.

"Congratulations to Leander and Radek and best of luck for the rest of the season. We have loved coming here and playing for the past 15 years. The crowd is fantastic. I will be flying back tomorrow as my wife is due. "