Doubles ace of Indian tennis, Leander Paes is contemplating extending his career by another one year to bid for an eighth Olympic appearance following the postponement of the Tokyo Games to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Paes, who will turn 47 in June, earlier announced that 2020 would be his “farewell year” as a professional before he hangs up his racket. Earlier he also announced that he will be playing select tournaments, to thank his fans around the world. The Tokyo Olympics would be his straight eighth Olympic appearance since he made Olympic debut on 1992 Barcelona Games.
“It’s a decision me and my team are thinking about very hard,” Paes told ESPN. “My dad has been vociferous in wanting to push me to play longer. He knows me well. He knows once I retire, I’m done. There’s not going to be a return. The fitness is still there, so is the mental aptitude and the tennis. I just have to focus on adjusting my training regime now that there’s going to be a long hiatus. This time I have might allow me a refreshed look at this.”
Coming from sporting backgrounds, Leander turned professional in 1991. Leander also rose to number 1 in the world junior rankings In the year of 1992. Leander’s best career single ranking was 73,which he achieved 24 August 1998. He went on to win bronze at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games in men’s singles category, which is rare feat in history of Indian tennis.
Pairing with another legendary tennis Ace Mahesh Bhupathi, Leander Paes got huge success in doubles category. More fact to remember, Leader and Bhupathi became the first doubles team to reach the finals of all four Grand Slams in history.
Turned into professional in the year of 1991, Leander has won 8 men,s doubles and 10 mixed doubles Grand Slam titles till date. He has not tasted grand slam success since he and legendary Martina Hingis won title of the mixed doubles category at the 2016 French Open.
“I haven’t taken a long, hard look at it yet. My team’s at me. They tell me I’ve really got to play that record eighth Olympics and put India in the history books,” he said. Paes described the IOC’s decision to postpone the Tokyo Games as a “brave” call. “It’s very tough, I have trained specifically for this season, just like most other athletes and all of us are having to deal with this shift and movement,” he said.
“We’ve been working every day to stay fit and healthy and watch our diet and be careful of not just losing the fitness I’ve worked on already, but also enhance my fitness. We will make a decision shortly on whether to continue and make this one last roar, a really long roar.”