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Saturday, June 06, 2009

Dlouhy-Paes Rally To Capture First Grand Slam Title Together

Third seeds Lukas Dlouhy and Leander Paes captured their first Grand Slam title together after rallying past unseeded Wesley Moodie and Dick Norman 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the Roland Garros championship in Paris on Saturday.

The Czech-Indian duo, who teamed up one year ago at Roland Garros, won their second title together ('08 Bangkok). It was the first Grand Slam doubles title in four finals for Dlouhy and the fifth crown in 10 finals for Paes. They are 2-3 lifetime in finals together.

Dlouhy was runner-up at Roland Garros two years ago (w/Vizner) and at the US Open in 2007 (w/Vizner) and last year (w/Paes). Paes won for the third time at Roland Garros after teaming with countryman Mahesh Bhupathi to earn titles in 1999 and 2001. He also won at Wimbledon in 1999 (w/Bhupathi) and the US Open in 2006 (w/Damm).

In the opening set, Dlouhy was broken in the second game, which proved to be the difference. In the third game, Paes was hit in the eye by a Norman volley at the net. He was treated with ice and was able to come back with no problem. In the second set, Norman was broken in the second game and Moodie in the fourth game as Dlouhy-Paes raced out to a 5-0 lead. Paes was broken in the seventh game but Dlouhy served it out to level the match.

In the decisive set, Moodie was broken at 0-40 in the third game and the South African lost his serve again in the seventh game. Paes secured the one hour and 40-minute victory by serving it out.

"I think it's fantastic to actually win a title, especially when you're playing with Lukas who is in a Grand Slam final and winning for the first time," said Paes. "The momentum of the mind in a final goes up and down, and we've played quite a few finals together, the US Open last year. We had a tough loss in the semi-finals of Wimbledon last year. To work with someone who is willing to put his best foot forward is a really big thrill.

"It's not always about trying to hit a better return or a better serve. It's all about the mind. That's what I appreciate about Lukas. He comes out there and he tries to be a better player every single day. That's really fun, too, and a pleasure to play with."

It was the sixth career tour level title for Dlouhy, who is the seventh different player from the Czech Republic to win a Grand Slam doubles crown in the Open Era, and the 40th for Paes.

"It's a great feeling to win this, such a big event, especially it's the first Grand Slam title," said Dlouhy. "I'm so happy about it. I have to thank my partner, Leander to carry me the all two weeks, and of course the coach and all the guys who were here with us to make a good atmosphere and be relaxed for the match."

Moodie and Norman were making their third tournament appearance together, their first in a Grand Slam tournament. They upset No. 7 seeds Max Mirnyi and Andy Ram in the first round and saved three match points in their semi-final win over No. 2 seeds Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan.

Moodie, who won Wimbledon in 2005 (w/Huss), was appearing in his second Grand Slam final. He owns four career doubles titles. Norman, at 38 years, 3 months, was making his doubles debut at Roland Garros and he was the oldest player to reach the final in Paris in the Open Era. The Belgian was looking to win his third tour level doubles title of his career ('09 Johannesburg, '07 Chennai).

Dlouhy and Paes won 84 per cent of first serve points comparied to Moodie and Norman's 57 per cent. The winning squad converted four of six break points and they saved two of four on their serve.

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