KOLKATA: As another Olympic Games comes nearer, keeping pace remains a challenge for Leander Paes. Even though he chases his dream of winning a medal in Rio de Janeiro next year, the 42-year-old knows it will not be a cakewalk. And perhaps that’s why the tennis ace is leaving no stone unturned to attain proper fitness before the mega event. “Training is going well, and I feel in great nick. I’m looking forward to the Olympics,” Paes said.
With just a few months left for the event, he also made it clear his partnership with Rohan Bopanna will boost India’s chances of bagging a medal. “We’ve the best chance in doubles. Rohan has been playing some wonderful tennis, and has done well with (Florin) Mergea. With Rohan and myself, there’s a great chance of a medal,” he added.
Four years ago in London, senior players refused to pair with Paes, and he had partnered Vishnu Vardhan. The duo lost in the second round, while in mixed doubles, he and Sania Mirza bowed out to Victoria Azarenka and Max Mirnyi.
Taking lessons from that, Paes admitted that he was cautious. “I played with Sania in London, and we had a great chance. This time, we’ve both had good seasons, so on merit it’s an obvious choice. But after London, nothing can be taken for granted,” he opined.
After winning mixed doubles in Wimbledon, Paes had told Express he would quit after Rio, and he’s honouring that. “Having prepared for six other Olympics, I took two-and-a-half years before this to plan my schedule, and fitness training to peak during that one week of the Olympics.”