Despite losing in doubles final of the Queen's club championship, tennis ace Leander Paes feels he and partner Mahesh Bhupathi are well prepared for Wimbledon
The first and hitherto last time Leander Paes won a men's doubles title at Wimbledon was way back in 1999, and incidentally it was with current partner Mahesh Bhupathi.
The Indian Express, a name they earned after global domination on the doubles circuit, split later that year only to reunite after a nine-year hiatus. A Grand Slam win however, has eluded them since their reunion, given they lost in the final of the season-opening Australian Open and then slipped early on the clay courts of Paris in the French Open.
Next week, the duo will return to the All-England Club at Wimbledon, and Paes is hoping they can re-create the magic that once saw them consistently rule the world.
"Thankfully, there are absolutely no worries on the fitness front. I'm running very hard and strong. I think Mahesh and me are playing great tennis," Paes told MiD DAY from London yesterday, a day after he and Bhupathi went down fighting in the Queen's final to American World No 1 Bryan brothers 6-7 (2-7), 7-6 (7-4), 10-6.
"It was a great match and we should have won it. We were up a set and a break, but it was a very interesting match nevertheless," said Paes, a self-confessed lover of the grassy courts at SW1 in London.
However, the result was not a disappointment by any stretch of imagination, felt the former India Davis Cup
"It was a tough tournament and the fact that we made it to the finals was good. This was the first tournament we played on grass (after their reunion), and it goes to show that we're playing well on grass. We've has a good run, so in that sense, it has been great preparation for the Wimbledon Championships," added Paes, who made a premature exit from the tournament last year stunning partnering Czech Lukas Dlouhy.
However, he went on to win the mixed-doubles title with Zimbabwean Cara Black, beating Lisa Raymond and Wesley Moodie 6-4, 7-6. The early doubles defeat still rankles though.
"Last year, it was quite disappointing for me in the doubles because we lost in the second round, so I definitely want to make amends this time round," Paes signed off.