Paes Stepanek Press Conference
by ATP Staff|
March 31, 2012
L. PAES R. STEPANEK/M. Mirnyi D. Nestor
3 6, 6 1, 10 8
An interview with:
LEANDER PAES and
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. I want to ask about that dance at the end. Does that dance have a name or anything?
RADEK STEPANEK: Doesn't have a name. It's just, you know, I live with my feelings, with my heart. Whatever I feel like doing, I felt like dancing so I dance.
I have been dancing before every match in the locker room a little bit, so now I can...
LEANDER PAES: It's called the 'Prostio of Jazz.' (Laughter.)
Q. Can you talk about winning three here in a row with three different partners? Is it the conditions here in Miami? You had a lot of success here.
LEANDER PAES: There are so many people behind the scenes who do an amazing job with us here in Miami. For me, right from the tournament organizers to the girls at credentials to the transportation to the people who really kind of go out there and make our lives a lot simpler, that's what makes me feel a lot at home in Miami.
Also, I have a lot of Indian/Portuguese blood, and I guess that Latin flavor here kinda gets me going, which is kinda fun.
The most important thing is I've got three great partners. Right now I'm sitting next to one of the greatest doubles player that I have ever played with. A lot of fun. Why he's that good is because he works as a team.
Some days I could be playing great and he's having a rough day but none of us feel it. We win or lose as a team. One day he's playing great, like today, and I'm not having such a great day. He helps me come through. We win as a team.
That's the beauty of doubles. It's the sum of two individuals is greater than two.
Q. Can you talk about the partnership? How did it get started? Whose idea and when?
LEANDER PAES: Yes, many years ago, about four to be exact, we decided to team up for a tournament in Delray Beach. We beat the No. 2 team of the world at that time in the finals. You will have to check the stats, but I think it was like 6 2, 6 Love.
RADEK STEPANEK: 6 1, 6 0.
LEANDER PAES: We were looking to play some more the following year, but I respect Radek's singles career, as well. He's a healthy singles player. I actually think his doubles makes singles a lot sharper, because he's the sort of player who has an all court game. Right now the surfaces are a lot slower on the tour, and he uses his all court game really well.
We have had such a great start to the year this year, so it's going to make us think a little bit more about whether we really want to end this year No. 1 in the world, because we have really kind of put a little bit of distance between us and the rest of the teams, but that's something we have to think of.
But at the end of November last year in Paris, to be exact Radek came to me, and there was a bit of nonsense going on with the doubles partnerships, and Radek came it me and said, Lea, would you like to play the whole year?
His honesty about saying, I would like to play this, this, and this week and that week and not this week and that week is something I respect a lot.
So for me he's thoroughly professional. We improve every day. I'm blessed to have a partner like him.
Q. That was this previous November?
LEANDER PAES: Yeah, 2011.
Q. Can you talk a little about the match? The second set, get back with the double break, but then the match tiebreak you're early down 1 4 but fought your way back. What really got you through in the critical stages?
RADEK STEPANEK: I think the only thing which got us always through is that we play together no matter how the match is going. You know, if it goes wrong for us, we know that we always can come back.
I think the first two games in the second set were very, very important for us, because we have been facing three break points on my serve straightaway first game. Then we have been able to pump ourselves in the break down, Max serve, which break their confidence because they have been all over us in the first set. They have been better in all aspects of the game.
But tennis is played for two sets, and until the chair umpire doesn't say, Game, set, match, the match is not over.
So we fighted through it, and we got on top of them in the second set all the way. I think the super tiebreak is always bit tricky, you know. It's a 10 point match tiebreak. It's really, really long. No matter if it's 1 4, we hold our two serves. We been just one point back, and we went from there and with a great stretch of six points, I believe, and turn it around.
We have been, I think, the more aggressive, and, you know, I would say creative team in the super tiebreak, as well. That's why we won.
Q. With all the success you're having this season, would you consider playing more doubles? How do you balance when you're doing so well?
RADEK STEPANEK: I think that we balance it so far. So far we balance it well, you know. As I said, no matter what we do, my focus is on singles. But if we gonna keep doing like this, we will be set for, I don't know, 12, 13 tournaments. So far we are doing really great winning two of them.
So let's see, you know, how the season will go. I think it's still too early to talk about big things. We have to be, you know, humble and be blessed with what we did and go back to our clay court season again to, you know, to just keep going, keep going what we are doing until now. And we'll see. We'll see what we gonna do with the rest of it.
Q. Can you tell me, are you better singles or doubles player? How did you become? What did you do to become such a good doubles player?
RADEK STEPANEK: You know what?
LEANDER PAES: Good question.
RADEK STEPANEK: Good question. I always felt like I'm singles player. But, for me, doubles is a great competition. I played doubles since I was a kid.
In every day I believe I practiced doubles without knowing that I'm practicing doubles. Just have to play tennis no matter if it been two on the court, three on the court, four on the court. Just love the game.
I think that's what I did when I was young. It goes always with you even now. You know, that's only others to say if I'm a better singles player or doubles player.
Also, it's about partner. You know, I have one of the greatest doubles players in all time, living legend, what he's capable to do in this age. It's amazing.
I believe it's inspirational for all the kids who are watching, all the young tennis players. I have great respect for my partner, and it's honor to play with him.
Q. Your country is a tennis rich country. Are you the best doubles players now for Czechs?
LEANDER PAES: Can I answer that one? Yes. (Laughter.)
Q. Now you have been pretty consistent with your doubles career over recent years, but now that you're so old...
RADEK STEPANEK: Come on.
LEANDER PAES: You know, I'm gonna kill you at the end of this one. (Laughter.)
Q. The fact that you guys have won two of the three big ones already at the start of this year, how much more encouragement and incentive does that sort of a start to the season give you for the rest of the year and beyond?
LEANDER PAES: You know, I have been actually thinking about it for the last 10 minutes, because someone asked us that on the court itself. I think I found the answer for this team. I'm not 100% certain, but I'm gonna say it anyway.
I think that Radek and myself need to stick to the 16 to 18 tournaments that we're looking at playing this year. I'm committed to play with him through this year. I'm committed to play with him through next year, as well.
The fact that we're being so potent when we are playing, I mean, we're winning a lot of tournaments, a lot of big matches, already we've put a bit of distance between ourselves and No. 2 and No. 3.
So I would really like to encourage Radek's singles, because, for me, I would never want my partner to say, um, he had to give up his singles because of his doubles.
I had to do that in 1998. In 1999 I gave up my singles for my doubles. I know how I feel now about it.
I think that Radek, in such great physical shape, he can play doubles for another 10 years if he wants. So really, for me, I think I found the answer in the last 10 minutes, but we're gonna chat a bit more about it.
For me, I'm going to be encouraging Radek's singles a lot. If we go and win another couple Masters Series, if we go and win another Grand Slam, probably gonna end up No. 1 in the world, anyway. So, for me, I'm really gonna encourage his singles all the way.
Q. How special is it for you to get your 50th career title here in a tournament where you have had so much success?
LEANDER PAES: It made it really, really special. 50 tournaments takes a little doing. 600 matches takes a little bit of doing.
Having done a three peat here in Miami is awesome. Next year I'm gonna start, you know, the next three peat, so to say. I hope to start another one.
But for me it's just about improving with my tennis. When I have a day off, Radek actually and myself go out there and we work on things. Yesterday, normal doubles players would have gone in and probably played for half an hour, 40 minutes and just kept their tools sharp. We hit for two hours yesterday.
Thanks to the curry muncher back there, he asked me about my age, that's what keeps me young. That's what keeps me going. I love to play tennis, And especially with a partner who is always looking to improve.
I help him, when he's out there, to work on his singles. My whole team is there for him to help him on his body staying healthy, on his mind staying fresh, on things that he needs as a tennis professional. That's the fun thing we have.
His team comes out there to encourage me and help me with my things. That's what tennis is about, about give and take, and I've got a good one here.
Q. I had a question for several days, but I waited to ask you: If you play all three matches in Davis Cup, and what are your expectations next week?
RADEK STEPANEK: Next week, you know, it's kind of far in the moment. I'm a thousand kilometers away from that. But tomorrow I will be back on the practice court back in Prague hitting already on clay.
You know, we go to every tie, you know, that we want to win. I mean, who is coming there with the thinking of losing? He doesn't even need to go there.
We had tough match against Serbia in 2010 back in Belgrade. Now we are playing on home soil in front of our crowd. We can choose the surface, so we would like to take advantage of it, and, you know, try to bring for our team three points over the weekend.
That's what our focus is on, and the rest, it doesn't matter to us.
Q. Singles and doubles?
RADEK STEPANEK: Whatever. If I have to play mixed, I play mixed. I love my country, and I will play whatever, even chess if it takes to win.
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