Leander Paes and Martina Hingis won the 2016 French Open mixed doubles title at Roland Garros beating Sania Mirza and Ivan Dodig in a thrilling encounter 4-6, 6-4, 10-8 after being locked at one set all.
In the process, they completed a “Career Slam” in Mixed doubles. It was a historic day for Indian tennis as it was the first time the two legends of Indian tennis were facing each other with so much at stake.
A Grand slam title was on the line and even more for Paes and his partner Martina Hingis who were looking to complete a career slam. There were the two best teams out of the 32 that had started the tournament and both pairs had to play two matches on Thursday to set up a showdown.
It was another cold evening at Paris with temperatures touching 14 degrees Celsius which meant that the players had to put on more layers of clothing. Paes started in typical fashion looking to poach any weak replies as he took up his favoured place at the net.
There were even some smiles exchanged between Mirza and Hingis as a Hingis volley found the line when the umpire came down to check the mark. Games went with serve till the end of the set when Hingis’ serve was broken when Mirza came up with a spectacular passing shot to clinch the opening set 6-4.
In the second set Paes and Hingis went up an early break but soon relinquished it. However they were able to clinch another break to lead 4-3. Both teams tried to resort to lobs to counter the heavy conditions.
Mirza then missed a volley to face set point but the second seeds fought back well to save both. Paes then served out the set without much trouble.
The match tiebreak that would decide the title took a rollercoaster route. First Mirza and Dodig took a 3-1 lead but Paes and Hingis slowly fought back with some authoritative tennis to level it back at 5-5 and then led 7-5 at the change of ends.
At one point Paes hit a trademark forehand volley winner ad started egging on the crowd as they led 8-6. Two points from the title. And there were cries of “Come on Old Man” from the crowd. Mirza and Dodig fought back to 8-8.
Hingis then hit a backhand pass to reach championship point and then Paes and Hingis closed out the win on a forehand error from Dodig.