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Rediff.com  » Sports » Navratilova a big inspiration to remodel my game and stay healthy: Paes

Navratilova a big inspiration to remodel my game and stay healthy: Paes

Last updated on: September 13, 2013 16:53 IST

Navratilova a big inspiration to remodel my game and stay healthy: Paes

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Leander Paes, who became the oldest man to clinch a Grand Slam title in the Open era after winning the men’s doubles crown with Radek Setpanek at the just-concluded US Open, says it is because of his former mixed doubles partner Martina Navratilova that he has been able to prolong his career.

"Playing with Martina for many, many years, I have learnt a lot. She is obviously a big inspiration for me to continue to remodel my game and stay healthy. I have also learnt how to live a clean lifestyle and be productive towards my tennis," Paes said in Mumbai on Friday.


Image: Leander Paes (left) with Martina Navratilova
Photographs: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

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'I had no idea that I was the first person in the Open era to win a Grand Slam at 40'

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Paes and Navratilova teamed up to win the mixed doubles title at the Australian Open and Wimbledon in 2003,  and finished runners-up at the Australian and French Open in 2004.

Paes, whose latest crown came at the age of 40 years and three months, said he determined to excel at the last Grand Slam of the year.

"I had no idea that I was the first person in the Open era to win a Grand Slam at 40. What I did know was that this whole year had been such a rough one - both on and off the court. It has been a very hard year. Coming into American summer, I knew I had to do really well.

"My first week in the Canadian Open in Montreal did not go well and the week in Cincinnati was average (got through to the quarter-finals). So I added an extra tournament (Winston-Salem Open) and played with a new partner called Daniel Nestor and we won that one. That seems to have kick-started the rhythm," he said.


Image: Leander Paes lifts his partner Radek Stepanek after winning the US Open men's doubles title
Photographs: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

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'In the US Open, I have done really well over the years'

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The US Open has always been a happy hunting ground for the Indian tennis ace and he was relieved to win again there after three years.

"In the US Open, I have done really well over the years. I won the junior singles title way back in 1991. For the last seven years, my performance in mixed doubles and men's doubles is fairly solid at the US Open. I was happy to get the hard court and humid conditions which we Indians are used to," said Paes, who has eight men's doubles trophies at the Majors and six mixed doubles crowns.


Image: Leander Paes (right) and Radek Stepanek pose with the US Open men's double trophy
Photographs: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Tags: Paes

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'Every time I step on to the court is to honour my team, my father'

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Dedicating his triumph to the people who have nurtured his career, Paes, who, in 1996 he became the first Indian in 44 years to win an individual medal at the Olympics - courtesy a bronze at Atlanta, said: "Every time I step on to the court is to honour my team, my father, who has been nurturing me as a human being as well as an athlete for so many years.

"For my coaches, Richard Leach, Sanjay Singh and Dave O'Meara, and the whole team who has looked after me for so many years. They are the ones who I play for and look to honour."


Image: Leander Paes
Photographs: Hitesh Harisinghani/Rediff.com

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