Age is not just a number for Leander Paes. At 40, it is an important factor highlighting his sensational career as he seeks to win yet another Grand Slam. (Paes-Stepanek vs Peya-Soares final, Live Blog)
Partnering Radek Stepanek, the Indian veteran has been unstoppable in his unwavering quest to keep winning. On Sunday, he will be one win away from emulating Martina Navratilova, who too won Grand Slams after reaching 40. Paes has won seven Grand Slam titles in men's doubles.
A player's body does wither with time and Paes is no different. His father however explains why the 'marathon-man' continues to wage successful wars on the tennis court. "He may have become a tad slow, but his hand-eye co-ordination is still very good and that's what makes him such a dangerous player, Dr Vece Paes was quoted as saying by a national daily.
In fact, the mastery over this co-ordination is so strong that Paes and Stepanek even brought down the fancied - and much younger - American pair of Mike and Bob Bryan in the semis.
The fourth seeded Indo-Czech pair denied the Bryans a piece of history with their 3-6 6-3 6-4 win as the American twins were trying to become first doubles team since 1951 to collect all four Grand Slam titles in the same year.
Now, Paes and Stepanek face second-seeded Brazilian-Austrian team of Bruno Soares and Alexander Peya, who beat Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo in the other semi-finals. While this may be the Indian's sixth appearance in the final of US Open men's doubles, Paes will be looking to put up another gritty fight. "He is one of the greatest interceptors in the game. Plus, he is fearless and has the ability to pull off something from nothing," said former Davis Cup captain Naresh Kumar.
Once on the court for the final, expect Paes to put in all his experience to winning use as he sets out to prove that in tennis, increasing age is just a reason to fight harder and celebrate longer.