Don’t be sur­prised to see me on the podium in 2018, says Paes

Millennium Post - - SPORT - OUR COR­RE­SPON­DENT

KOLKATA: Even af­ter be­ing ex­cluded from In­dia’s Davis Cup team, vet­eran In­dia ten­nis player Le­an­der Paes on Thurs­day stood his ground say­ing he is far from fin­ished and peo­ple should not be sur­prised if they see him on the podium next year.

“I will have a new mixed dou­bles part­ner and don’t be sur­prised if you see me at the podium in 2018,” Paes said at the launch of Senco Gold’s new plat­inum col­lec­tion.

Cur­rently ranked 62nd in men’s dou­bles, Paes fur­ther said: “I’ve three months left to lift my rank­ing and for me to play with an In­dian boy (Pu­rav Raja) is very spe­cial, es­pe­cially at this stage of my ca­reer.”

“By Novem­ber-end, I will fin­ish my sea­son and then I will see about next year. I re­ally want to do well to get my rank­ing back on top,” the 44-yearold said.

Re­call­ing old times, he said: “I picked up Ma­hesh (Bhu­pathi) when he was a young boy and we be­came world cham­pi­ons. Then Ro­han and I did very well in the Davis Cup (against Ser­bia) where we came back from two sets down to win a five-set­ter.” Paes made his Davis Cup de­but at the age of 16 in 1990 and holds the record for the most Davis Cup dou­bles wins with 42 vic­to­ries.

He was dropped by new non-play­ing cap­tain Bhu­pathi for the tie against Uzbek­istan ear­lier this year. In­dia play Canada on Fri­day for the World Group play­off tie.

Mean­while, he said the se­cret be­hind the suc­cess of Rafael Nadal and Roger Fed­erer is that they con­tinue to rein­vent them­selves de­spite the wear and tear that comes with age.

“They con­tinue to rein­vent them­selves. They con­tinue to learn new shots. Fed­erer had a surgery, he was in re­hab and came back to win two Grand Slams. You look at Rafa Nadal. He had shin prob­lems... knee prob­lems,” Paes said.

“Th­ese boys were away from the cir­cuit at the end of last year when Andy Mur­ray and (Novak) Djokovic were do­ing well. Now you see the wear and tear of those two at the end of the 2016 sea­son and now they couldn’t play at the US Open. “Now th­ese two le­gends Nadal and Fed­erer won two Grand Slams each. Let alone the Masters,” he added.

While Nadal beat Kevin An­der­son to cap off an ex­tra­or­di­nary 2017 sea­son as the No. 1 player in the world, in which he also won the French Open and made the Aus­tralian Open fi­nal against Fed­erer, the lat­ter Swiss le­gend bagged his eighth Wim­ble­don ti­tle, 14 years af­ter his first in July.

Fed­erer also won the Aus­tralian Open ear­lier in the year.

“I think that the true class of a cham­pion is how you rein­vent your­self to cre­ate ex­cel­lence over longevity,” , 44-year-old Paes said.

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