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Winning Grand Slams drives me : Leander Paes

Monday, 14 April 2014 - 7:00am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

Tennis ace Leander Paes, who is five short of 1,000 doubles matches, tells Anil Dias that at 40 he is still motivated to win another Slam and Olympic medal
  • Leander Paes

You're just five short of a thousand doubles matches. How has the journey been?

I never knew this statistic. But it's been a great ride. I'm blessed to have this vehicle of tennis. To continue at this level is amazing. Winning Grand Slams is what drives me. My daughter Aiyana is a great source of inspiration for me. If my motivation continues, there's no reason why I can't win another Grand Slam or another Olympic medal in doubles.

So, you still intend playing the Rio Olympics in 2016?

One hundred percent. It will be my seventh Olympics and I want to be a part of it.

Are you open to playing the Davis Cup World Group play-offs against Serbia?

If there is a need for me, I will. If need be to play or captain or help out, I'm still very open about it.

Now-a-days, there's a trend of players hiring legends as coaches. Is it to cope up with the modern game?

Like fashion, training systems are also cyclical. Same way in coaching. Sometimes, the backhand down the line becomes really important while sometimes the transition from the baseline to the net becomes important. What really is important in my opinion is to choose a team that vibes with you.

What keeps you going even after 40?

I think it's happiness and passion. In life, you just have to enjoy what you do. I'm very lucky to have the best team in the whole world – my trainer Dave Herman, my dad Vece, Aiyana, my mother and my manager. My team has been phenomenal. When the going is good, anybody can be good. But when the going is tough, that's when you seek true character and I'm blessed to have their support. If I would have to do this all over again, I wish that god would have put these very same people in my path.

You're known to be a simple person...

It's important to stay simple. You've got to be able to dine with the king and queen and also sit with a taxi driver in a dhaba and have biryani with them. Everybody wants to promote themselves at some level, but you have to find your own niche. Some love living under the radar, I love living in privacy and enjoying things that mean the most to me. For example, I enjoy having a meal with my father and daughter without any interruption. In the modern world, where everyone is looking for self propagation, I think quality and not quantity is of the essence.

Will you take part in the International Premier Tennis League?

I'll deal with it down the track. We'll cross that bridge when it comes to it.

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