Still going strong at age of 46, veteran Leander Paes reached the semifinals of the ATP Hall of Fame Open with partner Marcus Daniell, edging out Matthew Ebden and Robert Lindstedt here.
The third seeded Indo-Kiwi combination prevailed 6-4 5-7 14-12 over the Australian-Swede team in the quarterfinals after saving three match points.
Paes, who made his Hall of Fame Open debut way back in 1995, is now the oldest ATP Tour semi-finalist since John McEnroe (47) at 2006 San Jose.
“These are the nights that I live for. The hard work, playing when you have fever, being in the gym when you don’t really want to be there. Most people see us travelling to lovely places and being on show courts, but the hard yards are what allow me to still compete at this level,” said Paes.
The winner of 18 Grand Slam titles asserted that he still has a lot in his tank.
“The experience is still there, the legs are still there, the knowledge and strokes are there. It’s about finding the right doubles partners and I’ll have success. Being a student of life and the game, I used to try to learn from the older players. Now, I try to learn from the younger ones,” he told ATP website.
It is fourth time this season that Paes has reached the semifinals on the ATP World Tour, reaching the same stage at Lyon (May), Marrakech (April) and Montpellier (February) in the first half of the season.
“I have to work three times as hard now as I did 10 or 15 years ago. That’s just age, but I love the work. When I was younger, I’d waste a lot of energy practising for five or six hours a day.
“My training is very specific now, focusing on improving specific areas of my game, focusing on my diet and recovery. The knowledge we have nowadays in tennis on fitness, health and recovery is why the margins of winning and losing are so slim.”
With 766 tour wins, Paes is sixth on the all-time doubles match winners’ list. He is just one of six players to pick up 750 tour-level doubles match wins, which he achieved in April 2018.
Next up for Paes and Daniell are Marcel Granollers and Sergiy Stakhovsky.