Chennai: Fourteen Grand Slam trophies, an Olympic medal and 53 titles on the ATP tour makes him one of the greatest tennis players India has produced but veteran Leander Paes on Monday, refused to be labelled as great.
"I don't have a great serve, a great forehand or backhand. I just do things with my partners, whoever it is," the 40-year-old star said in a modest self-assessment on the eve of Chennai Open.
Paes said he dreams of winning more Grand Slams in 2014 and wants to compete in 2016 Brazil Olympics before quitting the game.
"I will consult the right people at the right time on retirement and making way for young talents and at the same time set a solid Indian team. I think you are reading my mind. I'll come back to you when I take a decision on this," Paes said.
Paes said he was concerned about the wide gap in the rankings of the Indian players and that has to be "bridged". "More than their talent, technique and skills, our players need to drastically improve upon their physical fitness. The kids abroad are 6ft or more these days. The way they run and stay fit is phenomenal."
Paes had a great start to his doubles career on the Chennai Open in early 90s, when he began his stint as a doubles player with compatriot Mahesh Bhupathi and won three titles in a row then two more in 1997 and 2011, said he doesn't consider himself as a great player.
On his hopes for the coming season, the Kolkata-born Paes said "This city is sort of home coming for me as I had my basics here from the ages of 12 to 17. I am here because I want to win some more Grand slams and be there for the Olympics. To achieve this, focus is to stay fit and healthy."
"There was no dearth of talent in India. But they have to focus on staying fit physically and mentally. It's not just technique and game, they have to stay fit and injury free," he said further.
On him being paired with different partners especially more successfully with Cezch players, he said, "They meet my expectations. They are all hard working, disciplined."
About his new doubles partner for Chennai open this time, Italian Fabio Fognini, Paes said the world no 18 "is a fabulous player, he has a big serve and phenomenal baseline game. I am happy to be back again in Chennai where I learnt the ropes. The hard work I put in in my formative years is helping me to this day," he said, adding Fabio and I are hoping for a good run here this time."