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Paes in mixed doubles final at Australian Open

20070224002302801MELBOURNE: Leander Paes earned a chance to equal the record for most Grand Slam title wins by an Indian after reaching the final of the Australian Open mixed doubles event with partner Cara Black, following a hard fought semi-final win on Friday.

The top seeded Indo-Zimbawean pair came from behind to edge past seventh seeds Lisa Raymond and Wesley Moodie 6-7, 7-6 (5), 10-7 at Melbourne Park.

After losing the first set, Paes and Black were trailing 2-4 in the second set but their tenacity paid as they were successful in stretching the match to a Super Tie-breaker.

American Raymond and South African Davis Cupper Moody pushed the top seeds to limit but could not stop them from going into the title clash.

Paes and Black will take on 10th seeds Ekaterina Makarova of Russia and Jaroslav Levinsky of Czechoslovakia, who beat seventh seeds Flavia Pennetta of Italy and Marcelo Melo of Brazil 6-0, 4-6, 10-8 in their semi-final match.

Paes has so far won 10 Grand Slam titles, including six men’s doubles trophies.

Paes’ estranged partner Mahesh Bhupathi has won the highest number of Grand Slam of titles — 11 — for India with seven mixed doubles and four men’s doubles trophies.

Paes won the mixed doubles title at the Australian Open in 2003 with Czech-American legend Martina Navratilova and finished runner-up the following year.

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