Indian tennis’ veteran star Leander Paes just turned 40 years old and he still wants to keep going and play in his seventh Olympics Games. He still features in the doubles events in the ATP Tour and the Davis Cup tournament, grinding it out with the younger lot. He is the only tennis player in the world who has featured in six consecutive Olympics. But the Indian says he still has a lot of fire in his belly to improve his game and play in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Paes said he would reunite with his Czech partner Radek Stepanek, with whom he won the Australian Open last year to complete his career slam. An injury to Stepanek followed by surgery forced Paes to look for other partners and no partnership succeeded. Paes, whose has dropped out of top-10, said he was looking forward to play with Stepanek again. They will start with a tournament in England, which will be a warm-up for Wimbledon.
Having won seven doubles and six mixed doubles Grand Slam titles and finishing as runner up in numerous other Grand Slam finals, he is considered to be one of the greatest and most respected contemporary doubles and mixed doubles players in the world. He is among the most successful professional Indian tennis players and is also the former captain of the Indian Davis Cup team. He is the recipient of India’s highest sporting honour, the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award, in 1996–1997; the Arjuna Award in 1990; and the Padma Shri award in 2001 for his outstanding contribution to tennis in India. Paes completed the career grand slam in men’s doubles after winning the Australian Open in 2012.
I remember going to see him play the singles & doubles finals of a short lived tournament at the clay courts tournament held by the Cochin Oil Refireries at Ambalameedu back in 1991! I was15 and I went with a cousin and our uncle to see the singles & doubles finals, both in which he competed and lost. A friend of mine from school was also there and I ditched my uncle & cousin to sit with my buddy as we watched both finals. At the end we stood in line to get autographs and I’m pretty sure I still have his somewhere in my stuff, packed in the store room. Hope you continue to have success until you decide it’s time to retire Leander!