Tennis

Everywhere I play, it's just a rekindling, says Paes as he bids farewell to Maharashtra Open

Bidding adieu: Leander Paes, who is playing his last year as a professional athlete, thanks the Pune fans.

Bidding adieu: Leander Paes, who is playing his last year as a professional athlete, thanks the Pune fans.  

Paes played his last Tata Open Maharashtra on Thursday

Every event Leander Paes graces in his last year as a professional athlete is sure to mark an end to a glorious chapter. On Thursday night, he bid farewell to the Tata Open Maharashtra, India’s only ATP Tour level tournament, where he holds the record for the most number of doubles titles (6).

“Books are being closed, the library will soon shut,” Paes said. “I just said thank you [while exiting]. Those lines of a tennis court.. I've lived a lot of my life within those lines. When I looked at them, there were just flashbacks of memories, moments, matches.”

“When I left Australia it was the same. In Pune I had flashbacks of Davis Cup and other moments. Everywhere I play, it's just a rekindling.

No archives

“Through my whole career, I really haven’t read the archives or watched what one has done. Because I’m always trying to stay in the moment and look ahead.”

The taste of an on-court victory is something Paes still craves for, even at the fag end of a storied three-decade career. But a good transition into his post-retirement life is as paramount.

“There are so many things still to win,” the 46-year-old said. “I could say a Grand Slam, an Olympic medal, to get India to the Davis Cup World Group.

Second innings

“But if I can transition well from being a professional athlete into my second innings, something most athletes have trouble with… that’s one thing I’d like to win.

“It’s funny how motivated I am by this. Now that one library [will] close, there are others to open.”

It’s the same spirit that reflects in his readiness to compete for India in the upcoming Davis Cup tie against Croatia in March. Paes has been named in the preliminary six-man squad which will eventually be cut to five.

“If I’m selected, you can be rest assured I’ll be putting my best foot forward,” Paes said. “That's part of the reason why I'm playing in Bengaluru next week, and then in Dubai two weeks after that, leading into the Davis Cup camp. I think it's important to get matches.

“Here I was very ordinary on the second day [during the loss]. But, the first day I was pretty damn good. That's sport.

“Some days you play great, some days you don't. But in the end you've got to put your best in forward,” he said.

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Printable version | Apr 3, 2020 7:48:48 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/tennis/everywhere-i-play-its-just-a-rekindling-says-paes-as-he-bids-farewell-to-maharashtra-open/article30764904.ece

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