Tennis fraternity hails Paes after Aus Open triumph

The Indian tennis fraternity on Saturday lauded Leander Paes for winning a Grand Slam title at the age of 38 and described him as a "born doubles player".

Updated: January 28, 2012 21:00 IST
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New Delhi: The Indian tennis fraternity on Saturday lauded Leander Paes for winning a Grand Slam title at the age of 38 and described him as a "born doubles player".

Paes on Saturday completed his career Grand Slam by winning the Australian Open men's doubles title with first-time partner Radek Stepanek as they outplayed world's top pair of Mike and Bob Bryan.

Former Davis Cup skipper Jaideep Mukherjea said the way Paes and Stepanek played, it wouldn't be surprising if they won another Slam in the 2012 season.

"It's fantatstic for Indian tennis. We are all excited. All credit goes to Paes for winning a Grand Slam at the age of 38. To win with a new partner is even more amazing," Mukherjea told PTI.

Mukherjea said Paes and Stepanek took their game few notches above their opponents in the title round.

"Their service return was fantastic. Even in the tie-breaker, they were so dominating. If they play like this, they could win another Grand Slam together. Doubles is all about reflexes and they were very agile," he said.

India's current Davis Cup captain S P Misra said Paes is a superb deuce court player and that's why he is so successful with advantage court specialists.

"He can disturb the rhythm of any player in the world. Such is his repertiore of shots. This is a remarkable achievement. He is a born doubles player," Misra said.

"He is an amazing right court player. He creates opportunities for his partners and that's why he has tasted such big success with left-court players," Misra added.

The fact that Paes has made such a tremendous start in a year that will see Olympics didn't go unnoticed.

"Definitely, he is a contender. He is still moving well. He is a professional and physically fit player. He will be India's hope at Olympics," Misra said.

Mukherjea also felt that if Paes can keep up his form, India will have a good chance to win a medal at the London Games.

"Certainly, if he plays like this, he will be a serious contender. But there are a lot of tournaments in between. Let's see, how he fares in those tournaments.

Paes has previosuly won a singles bronze medal at the Atlanta Olympic Games, becoming India's first tennis player to win a medal.

The All India Tennis Association also congratulated Paes for his achievement and promised to felicitate the Indian at an appropriate time.

"It's a great day for Indian tennis. We had felicitated Paes when he completed 20 years in Davis Cup and will definitely honour him for this remarkable achievement," AITA Secretary General Anil Khanna said.

Former India player Akhtar Ali said Paes has shown nothing is impossible, having won a Grand Slam at the age of 38.

"It's really unbelievable. He is 38 and at this age he keeps winning. His physical fitness is amazing. By this, he has shown the world that if you can keep your body in good shape you can win at this level. Nothing is impossible.

"Winning feeling is really different. You are pumped up. Your motivation level is high...there is no doubt about it. He has got a very good chance to win the mixed doubles," said Akhtar.

Stating that he was proud to have coached Paes, Akhtar said, "He defeated three top seeded players - 1, 2 and 3 - en route to the title. I'm really happy, having coached him at the Calcutta South Club during his earlier days.

"Few days ago, he won the (doubles) title (with Janko Tipsarevic) in Chennai. Now he is back in business in Australian Open. It's really (an) unbelievable performance.

"This time he has performed with somebody (Czech partner Radek Stepanek) who never plays doubles. It really speaks something about Leander."

Leander's father, Dr Vece Paes said his son follows a strict regime to stay mentally and physically fit.

"I don't think age was a factor for him at all. All along, he has followed a very strict and competitive regime. By being mentally and physically fit he has able to overcome the age barrier," Paes told PTI.

"He has also stopped playing singles and only concentrating on doubles, that has really helped. This title for him was long over due. He had come close to winning this twice the last being in 1999. It's really good for him as he started the year on a winning note (Chennai, Australian Open).

"Now he has got the whole year ahead to prepare for Olympics, which is the target."

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