Leander clears the air, will play the Olympics for ‘fans and country’

first_imgAll set to play his sixth Olympics, Indian tennis star Leander Paes has been preparing hard for it in the United States. He believes that making it to the finals of the Wimbledon mixed doubles would help his quest for a medal in the forthcoming London Games.Olympics’ tennis matches would be held at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, where Paes and his Wimbledon mixed doubles partner Elena Vesnina finished runners-up earlier this month. The nine-time doubles Grand Slam winner said his deep run at Wimbledon might help him.”You know playing at Wimbledon this year was definitely a great practice and training for the Olympics. Wimbledon is a huge Grand Slam event. So going out there to try and win it. I came up one step short in the mixed doubles. But it was a great outing. It was awesome to be in the finals and playing on that last day. Got a lot of practice on the grass and did well in the doubles and mixed especially. Looking forward to the Olympics. I won the mixed doubles at the Wimbledon,” Paes said in an interview.The 39-year-old, who would team up with Sania Mirza in mixed doubles and Vishnu Vardhan in men’s doubles, refused to talk about the controversy surrounding Indias doubles pairing and preferred to talk about positive things.”You know it’s a great honour to play for my fans, play for my people?that have supported me for 25 years. And going for my sixth Olympics is something that I have never ever dreamt of as a young kid. I didn’t expect to be still playing at such a high level after 26 years of being on the tour,” the former Olympic bronze medallist said.advertisementPaes, who is currently playing for the Washington Kastles in the US World Team Tennis league, said he finds playing competitive tennis in warm conditions a better way to prepare for the mega event than practising in the wet London weather.”Most people believe that to go into practice in between Wimbledon and the Olympics is the right thing to do. But I personally believe, with the weather being bad in London and not getting that much practice on the grass there because the grass gets so slippery and wet once it rains. It is much better to hone ones skills in matches. Especially, this team tennis format is amazing. It puts pressure-like situations every game and when you come out to play every night, it keeps you afresh and really in match practice. So I am happy,” he elaborated.”For me, it’s a lifestyle. Tennis and achieving excellence is all about a lifestyle. I am very blessed with my family who look after me really well, and my coaches, my trainers, my physios. They look after me great. So when I go into the tennis court to play, I actually am celebrating all the people that have helped me over the years achieve excellence,” Paes said attributing his longevity to his lifestyle.Talking about handling pressure at an even like Olympics, he said, “Pressure is something that we have to handle as professional athletes. That’s something that doesn’t faze me at all. What’s really fun is to actually keep improving every day. Every time I step on to the tennis court, I look to improve. Every day that I wake up in the morning, I look to improve. Whether it’s as a tennis player or as a person, you want to keep getting better and sharpening the skills that I have, so that I can keep producing the kind of tennis that I have produced over the last 20 years.”last_img

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