Indian tennis ace Leander Paes is not at all surprised with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer dominating once again, saying the ageing duo continue to “reinvent” themselves. Nadal beat Kevin Anderson in the US Open final to finish world no. 1 in the calendar year in which he had also won the French Open and made the Australian Open final before losing to Federer.
The Swiss legend also bagged his eighth Wimbledon title, his first since 2012. Paes hailed the duo for having transformed their careers.
“I could see it coming. The amount of respect they command in our sport is so well-deserved. They continue to reinvent themselves, learn new shots, get their fitness high,” he said.
“Both these men are away from the circuit at the end of last year when Andy Murray and (Novak) Djokovic were doing well. Now you see, with the wear and tear of Murray and Djokovic they could not play at the US Open. Now both these two legends, Federer and Nadal have won two each of the four Grand Slams.
“Let alone the Masters. The true class of a champion is how you reinvent yourself to create excellence over longevity,” Paes added.
Paes hinted of coming up with an academy in Kolkata but refused to share more details.
“For me to come back to Kolkata and share my knowledge garnered over 30 years now along with dad to give back to the sport in India and especially here is very important to me. Yes, there will be a plan definitely to nurture young athletes through an education system of sport in Kolkata,” he said.
Urging youngsters to take up sport not just as a hobby but as a career, he said: “10-15 sports was a hobby. But it has become a profession with our careers. You can get scholarships, earn money. You can use sporting expertise and create a life for yourself, a global life.
“Many young Indians use sport to study globally and they get 100 per cent scholarships, saving their parents about Rs 40-50 lakh per year. That’s a lot of money if you take four years.”
“If you excel in sport, you can get scholarships and earn a living for yourself. Any sport, be it hockey, shooting, tennis, badminton is a great vehicle to stand on their own feet and educate themselves and get great jobs, he said.
The Olympic bronze medallist further gave credit to former Davis Cup captain Naresh Kumar for his success.
“I would not be who I’m without uncle Naresh and aunt Sunita. Their family is very very special to me,” Paes said.
“I’m very very proud of my heritage, whether it comes from my ancestor (eminent Bengali poet) Michael Madhusudhan Dutt or my mother (Jennifer) who captained India in basketball or my father who won an Olympic medal in 1972, or uncle Naresh Kumar (my first Davis Cup captain).
“To actually grow up in Kolkata and study in La Martiniere, play at South Club and CCFC and learn in Maidan where dad played hockey for Mohun Bagan. To go out there and have that sporting heritage, I carry it all around the world. I’m proud of it,” concluded Paes.