Bengaluru

Whether Wednesday is my last match in India or Sunday, the music will slow down one day: Leander Paes

Leander Paes gets emotional while addressing the media ahead of the Bengaluru Open, which is set to be his last ATP tournament, in Bengaluru on Tuesday.

Leander Paes gets emotional while addressing the media ahead of the Bengaluru Open, which is set to be his last ATP tournament, in Bengaluru on Tuesday.  

Among the top draws at the Karnataka State Lawn Tennis Association are its ‘Walls of Fame’ that are steeped in the sport’s history. From Rod Laver to Martina Navratilova to John McEnroe to Ramanathan Krishnan, there is an exquisitely framed photograph of nearly every tennis great.

Needless to say, there is one of Leander Paes too, to which the legend has lent a personal touch with his autograph. It’s the chance to relive this history, savour the tennis culture and experience the connect with the fans for one last time that has drawn Paes to the ATP Bengaluru Open.

“If you look around the stadium, the posters themselves speak a million words,” Paes said on Tuesday. “For me, playing in Bangalore is an emotion. It’s one of those few pockets [in India] that plays a lot of tennis, has a rich heritage, and the fans are very educated. This is one of my favourite hunting grounds and the Davis Cup doubles win against Serbia (2014) where we came back from two sets to love down is one of my most memorable ones.”

From the Australia Open to the Tata Open Maharashtra in Pune and now Bengaluru, the 46-year-old is on a thanksgiving journey. But Paes insisted that it hasn’t distracted from what he considers his primary responsibility — to achieve on-court excellence.

“I still put my time into it,” Paes said. “I do my gym work, I do my training. I want to make sure that I keep playing to the level I’m used to. With my physicality and attitude, if I wanted to play for another two or three years I could. The body is really fit and the mind still fresh.”

“But being on the professional circuit, travelling week in week out, 30 weeks a year is very hard. My team also has kind of disintegrated. My travelling coach and tennis coach are back home. So travelling alone is no fun, after 30 years of doing it.”

On Wednesday, however, he is sure to be in a happy place, between the lines of a tennis court where he has felt most at home, as he is set to usher in the night session matches on Centre Court in the company of Matthew Ebden, his partner from Australia.

“Whether Wednesday is my last match in India or Sunday, the music will slow down one day, go silent. But just as in music, there are many different songs in an album. There are many different albums in a musician’s career. And it’s those albums that I look forward to. Now, I’m so excited to be here at the Cubbon Park and [am] looking forward to entertaining the fans and thanking all of them.”

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Printable version | Feb 17, 2020 5:39:58 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/whether-wednesday-is-my-last-match-in-india-or-sunday-the-music-will-slow-down-one-day-leander-paes/article30794930.ece

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