"Controlling the ball" still motivates me, asserts Leander Paes

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"Controlling the ball" still motivates me, asserts Leander Paes

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SportsCafe Desk


While admitting that he has nothing left to prove in his career, Leander Paes has revealed that commanding the court and controlling the ball is what motivates him as he enters the 27th year of his career. Paes also passed on some tips for youngsters on how they can improve in the offseason.

With 18 Grand Slam titles and an Olympic medal in his kitty, there’s not really much that one can ask of Indian tennis great Leander Paes. At 44, he proves that age is merely a number with his passion for the game and dedication towards his own personal fitness still on point. After a disappointing end to his Maharashtra Open campaign with new doubles’ partner, Purav Raja, where the duo faced defeat at the hands of fellow countrymen Rohan Bopanna and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan, Paes still remains optimistic towards the future, claiming he still ‘ enjoys the game’.

"Right now I am going through a beautiful part of my tennis career, where I don't need to prove anything. To be able to still control the ball to be still able to command the court, it still motivates me." Paes told PTI.

"I enjoy the game. I have achieved everything, I wanted to. Now I am playing for myself. I want to motivate people around the world that if Leander can do something even through hard and tough times, If I can keep that health and fitness and happiness about my life, then everybody else can.

"We live in times, where life is very hard. There is terrorism everywhere, there is poverty, the cost of living is rising, lots of scams going on but you need good role models out there to show that life is tough but can be good too."

Paes, who has won literally everything on the tennis circuit, stressed on the importance of staying fit even in the off-season. With the sports rapidly becoming a power dominated game with the likes of Andy Murray, Kei Nishikori, among others turning into dominant players, Paes stressed on the importance of fitness in the modern game. 

"For me the off-season is about skill, endurance, weights, core, back, reinventing my game because now the game has become physical. All these boys are 6'3", 6'5". They are so strong, that your reaction time becomes less because the ball is being hit so hard," he added.

"Building power means that the serve can be powerful. The forehand can be stronger. You can come back with a new style of doubles. So, the off-season for me is more about physical fitness and also about setting new goals because I am finding it very tough to set new goals."

Paes has combined with more than 100 partners since turning pro in 1991. He said he has continuously "adapted" and "reinvented" his game to be successful on the international stage over a long period of time.

"You have to adapt. Like anything in life if you don't, you become obsolete. I have found that the magic of competing at the highest level is in the reinvention of my game. I am lucky I am a good athlete and student of the game. I look to adapt my style according to my partners," he concluded.

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