Calcutta: Like most sport, tennis too is essentially considered a game of the young. It requires immense fitness to survive the onslaught at the top level.
But Leander Paes, at 40, is redefining such notions.
On Sunday, Leander partnered Czech Radek Stepanek to win the 2013 US Open title, his 14th Grand Slam triumph.
Leander is now the oldest man to win a Grand Slam in the Open era. But the tennis fraternity thinks he is still good enough to add a few more feathers to his decorated cap. Jaidip Mukerjea put it down well saying, Leander is like old wine. Expect a few more cheers from him.
The following are excerpts (alphabetically)
Akhtar Ali: I’m very happy… See, when I first coached him he was just 10, so for me it’s a special feeling that he has won yet another Grand Slam, that too at the age of 40. In simple words, his performance in the final was one of the finest I have seen.
The most important quality that he has as a player is that he has the guts to take risks and brave the odds. You can be very talented, but all that will go in vain if you are not gutsy enough to face situations. He is never afraid to gamble… That is so important when you face difficult situations.
Jaidip Mukerjea: It was simply a fantastic effort from Leander to win yet another Grand Slam at the age of 40. Credit to his amazing fitness… Not just as a tennis player, the fitness he has would make any sportsperson proud. At this age, he plays so much… Not just the Grand Slams and other ATP meets, but also the Davis Cup.
Leander and Stepanek dominated the final from the word go. Actually, they cashed in on the inexperience of the opponents. But what a match they played against the Bryans (in the semis)! You see, Leander is just like old wine… It only gets better.
Enrico Piperno: Winning a Grand Slam at 40… Leander has made history. We were used to seeing such things from the great Martina Navratilova. But now Leander has joined that elite league.
I first coached him in 1991… What amazes me is the fact that she has now become 22 and Leander is still going strong… As good as ever. Longevity is an asset for any sportsman, and so Leander has done an outstanding job surviving at the top for all these years.