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Tennis: Veterans Hingis-Paes win Australian mixed title

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(GlobalPost/GlobalPost)

Comeback queen Martina Hingis rolled back the years to claim her first Grand Slam title since 2006 on Sunday, clinching the Australian Open mixed doubles crown with fellow veteran Leander Paes.

The old stagers, seeded seven, were in their first major outing as a pairing and drew on all their experience to down the third seeds, France's Kristina Mladenovic and Canadian Daniel Nester, 6-4, 6-3.

Hingis' win comes 20 years after making her Melbourne debut as a 14-year-old and less than a year after coming out of retirement.

"Not even in my wildest dreams would I have believed that 20 years later I'd be standing here again," said the Swiss star, who spent 209 weeks as the world's number one singles player in her heyday.

"It's not even like the cherry on top, it's more than that to be there and to be able to hold another trophy with Leander.

"It's more than I could ever dream of."

Hingis, the holder of five Grand Slam singles titles, now has 11 major doubles crowns -- nine women's and two mixed.

Her last major success was in the mixed doubles at Melbourne Park with another Indian, Mahesh Bhupathi, in 2006.

Paes, 41, has won eight men's doubles and seven mixed doubles Grand Slams and said he planned to aim for more, with retirement not on his mind.

"My dad, as soon as we won I called him, he goes, 'Okay, now you have to focus on the next one'. I said, 'Dad, it hasn't even been five minutes'.

"But I love the game of tennis. To play with this champion who I keep learning from every day is a lot of fun. I look forward to being back soon."

Hingis, 34, came out of six years' retirement last year, partnering Italy's Flavia Pennetta to make the US Open women's doubles final.

She said she had never really been away from the game.

"I was never really completely out of the picture, away from tennis. It was always part of my life one way or another," she said.

"I was playing some exhibitions, then I was coaching a little bit. The coaching probably got me more into it because I was playing with the girls, hitting, being face-to-face to the best players in the world.

"So that felt like maybe I can play with them."

While she has no plans to get back into singles at this stage, she is keen to keep playing doubles, and is even considering the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

"Right now we're very far away. We're really enjoying the moment to be here, to have the title," she said.

"I mean, it's out there, definitely (Rio). It's something that would be probably -- I mean, I haven't played Olympics since '96, so ..."

mp/rsm

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