Leander Paes: 'Will play tennis as long as I enjoy it'

"I am looking forward to winning a couple of more Grand Slams. I am feeling at my fittest in 14 years. I have never listened to what people say. Had I done that I would not have won one Grand Slam," the 43-year-old Leander Paes said ahead of India's Davis Cup tie against New Zealand.

“I don’t have anything to prove to anybody. I play because I love the game. I have done the hard work for 30 years and I’m proud of it," Leander Paes said.   -  R. Ragu

The talks of his retirement may have been doing the rounds in recent times, but Leander Paes was categorical that he would play the game as long as he enjoys it.

“I am looking forward to winning a couple of more Grand Slams. I am feeling at my fittest in 14 years. I have never listened to what people say. Had I done that I would not have won one Grand Slam,” the 43-year-old Leander said on Wednesday, after a long training session.

“I don’t have anything to prove to anybody. I play because I love the game. I have done the hard work for 30 years and I’m proud of it.”

Watching Ramkumar Ramanathan training hard with the reserve players, Leander had good words for all.

“Ram had a tough outing in Chennai. It shattered his confidence. He went to Florida to train. I had a chat with him. He is a lot more confident now. I am proud of him. We all go through ups and downs.

“Siddhant Banthia made the doubles quarterfinals at the Australian Open juniors, and missed a matchpoint in the singles because he played safe. I had seen Adil Kalyanpur working at the gym every day during the last French Open. Nitin Kumar Sinha has strong legs and an intense game. All these guys are trying to prove themselves,” said Leander.

Much against the general projection that it would be curtains for his career when his erstwhile doubles partner Mahesh Bhupathi takes over as the Davis Cup captain from the next tie, Leander said that it would be “awesome’’ to play under him.

“I am happy for Mahesh. If I get a chance, it will be awesome. I am ready for national duty whenever I am called,” Leander said.

Talking about Saketh Myneni, Leander recalled the fabulous match against the Olympic champions Rafael Nadal and Marc Lopez in the World Group play-off tie against Spain in Delhi in September.

“We dominated the first two sets and the fourth set. One foot fault changed the match,” he remarked.

Leander hoped that he would get the best partner to achieve the record for the most number of doubles wins in the history of Davis Cup. He is at the moment tied on 42-12 win-loss record with Nicola Pietrangeli of Italy, who incidentally holds the record for most number of singles wins as well at 78-32. Leander has an enviable 48-22 record in singles.



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