PARIS: India’s Mahesh Bhupathi and Sania Mirza won the mixed doubles title at the French Open on Thursday, defeating Santiago Gonzalez of Mexico and Klaudia Jans-Ignacik of Poland 7-6 (7/3), 6-1 in the final.
Bhupathi, one of the most successful men’s doubles and mixed doubles players ever, won the title in style on his 38th birthday.
“Now I don’t have to think of a gift to give him,” Mirza said after their victory which was broadcast live in India, where the pair, playing as seventh seeds, are national sporting heroes.
Bhupathi, who is married to Indian actress and former Miss Universe Lara Dutta, dedicated the trophy to their four-month-old daughter Saira, his first child.
“This one’s for her and I’m really happy,” he said, after winning his eighth mixed doubles majors crown — he has now won each mixed title twice.
Bhupathi first won the mixed doubles title at Roland Garros in 1997, when he teamed up with Japan’s Rika Hiraki to become the first player from India to lift a Grand Slam trophy.
He completed a career Grand Slam in mixed doubles in 2006. Bhupathi also has four men’s doubles majors, including two in Paris
It was the third time that Mirza and Bhupathi had reached a Grand Slam final together. They won the 2009 Australian Open after being runners-up at the same tournament in 2008.
“We play a dangerous kind of tennis. When we’re playing well, it’s kind of hard to beat us,” Bhupathi told a news conference.
Mirza, who did not play singles at Roland Garros following a rankings slump, added: “Every time you enter a tournament you want to win it. That’s something that you enter hoping.
“You know, we were happy that we could keep the level up over two weeks and come out playing well on the important points. I think that’s what really matters in mixed with the deuce and super tiebreaks.”
Mirza said she felt they were destined to win the final, which was played in the late evening and in the aftermath of the women’s singles semi-finals, and was watched by just a handful of fans inside the Philippe Chatrier court
“It’s happened the second time on his birthday. Funnily enough, he said it the first time when we were playing the first round. He said, ‘Oh, last time I won on my birthday in Paris. I won my first slam’,” she explained.
“So he said, ‘Maybe it’s destiny’. We were still in the first round. We kept winning and we didn’t want to jinx it, so we didn’t mention it again.”
Gonzalez and Jans-Ignacik had prevented the final becoming a virtually all-Indian affair when they defeated Leander Paes and his Russian partner Elena Vesnina in the semi-finals.