Leander Paes said he has no intentions of retiring in the near future and wants to win a few more grand slams before calling it a day. The 43-year-old also expressed his excitement at playing Davis Cup under former partner Mahesh Bhupathi, who is to take over as non-playing captain.
Paes, who teams up with Martina Hingis at all majors, was knocked out in the mixed doubles quarter-finals at the Australian Open. The Indian is one win away from setting the new record for most number of doubles wins in Davis Cup history. He is currently tied with Nicola Pietrangeli on 42.
“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 am proud of it,’’ Paes told The Hindu.
“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.’’
India selected three singles players (Saketh Myneni, Yuki Bhambri, and Ramkumar Ramanathan) for the upcoming Davis Cup tie and Paes is the only doubles specialist in the lineup. Ramanathan was knocked out in the first round of both singles and doubles at the Chennai Open, but Paes said the 22-year-old was training hard to get ready to represent his country.
“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," Paes said.
“Siddhant Banthia made the doubles quarterfinals at the Australian Open
Paes is likely to team up with Myneni again after the duo played against Olympic champions Rafael Nadal and Marc Lopez in the World Group play-off tie against Spain last year. Paes and Myneni won the first set against their more illustrious opponents before losing in four sets.
“We dominated the first two sets and the fourth set. One foot fault changed the match,’’ he recalled.
On his thoughts about playing under Bhupathi, Paes said, "I am happy for Mahesh. If I get a chance, it will be awesome. I am ready for national duty whenever I am called.’’