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Is Leander Paes ready to hang up his racket?

Last updated on: December 02, 2019 23:17 IST

'My experience carries me through now, but in the longevity for what's the best for the team I should not be playing past another year.'

Leander Paes

IMAGE: Leander Paes speaks to the media after India's Davis Cup players returned to New Delhi on Monday, after being Pakistan 4-0. Photograph: PTI

India’s veteran tennis ace Leander Paes hinted at possible retirement on Monday, saying he now relies on experience to outsmart opponents and shouldn't be playing past another year.

 

Paes was named in India's Davis Cup squad for the just-concluded Pakistan tie after several top players made themselves unavailable to travel to Islamabad.

The 46-year-old went on to better his own record by achieving his 44th Davis Cup doubles victory as India routed Pakistan 4-0 last week.

"My experience carries me through now, but in the longevity for what's the best for the team I should not be playing past another year," India’s only Olympics medallist in tennis told reporters.

The 1996 Atlanta Olympics bronze winner added that nurturing a new, young team should be the main objective for Indian tennis right now.

"Already, by 46, I should have been moved out by the next generation coming up," Paes said.

"So to really be looking at it objectively, the health of the team, to nurture a younger team is what's important."

India's Leander Paes on the podium after winning the bronze medal in the men's singles tennis event at the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia, on August 3, 1996.

IMAGE: India's Leander Paes on the podium after winning the bronze medal in the men's singles tennis event at the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia, on August 3, 1996. Photograph: Gary M. Prior/Getty Images

Paes, who has won 18 Grand Slam titles, said coaching youngsters is one of the things he plans to do.

"I was really focused on this tie; I had to motivate the youngster. Now I'm going to think about my 2020 season. I will be thinking hard about these 30 years I have just completed. And I'm going to evaluate with my team what this new season brings," he said.

"There are other things that are motivating me so much. A dream of mine is to coach and train and nurture youngsters to win Olympic medals, to win the Wimbledon championship."

Talking about the Pakistan tie, Paes said he volunteered to play because he did not want India to be relegated in the Davis Cup.

"My reason for this Davis Cup was to make sure India as a team didn't forfeit the tie with the players not going to Islamabad to play ... then for the next three to four years we would be relegated to a zonal group and would have to fight our way up."

"None of us have put 30 years to see that happen. The last time that happened was in 1974 when India was to play South Africa."

Meanwhile, coach Zeeshan Ali and non-playing captain Rohit Rajpal lavished praise on Paes, saying the experience the veteran brings with him is unmatched.

"Experience is one thing that he brings to the table, having played the amount of Davis Cup matches that he has played and won. No matter where we go and which team we play, they all look up to him. It does not have to be only Indian players," Ali said.

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