Mumbai: The oldest player to clinch a Grand Slam title in Open era, Leander Paes on Friday credited his former mixed doubles partner Martina Navratilova for helping him elongate his international career by adopting a “clean lifestyle”.
“Playing with Martina for many many years, I have learnt a lot. She is obviously a big inspiration for me to continue to remodel my game and stay healthy. I have also learnt how to maintain a clean lifestyle and be productive towards my tennis,” Paes told reporters on his return to Mumbai, after winning the doubles trophy at the US Open.
Paes and Navratilova together won two Grand Slam titles, besides finishing runners-up on two other occasions. He became the oldest man to win a Grand Slam title on Sunday when he, along with his Czech partner Radek Stepanek, won the US Open doubles.
Enduring a tough season this year, Paes was determined to excel at the last Grand Slam of the year.
“I had no idea that I was the first person in the Open era to win a Grand Slam at 40. What I did know was that this whole year had been such a rough one -- both on and off the court. It has been a very hard year. Coming into American summer, I knew I had to do really well.
“My first week in the Canadian Open in Montreal did not go well and the week in Cincinnati was average (got through to the quarter finals). So I added an extra tournament (Winston-Salem Open) and played with Daniel Nestor. And we won that one. That seems to have kick-started the rhythm,” he said.
The US Open has always been a happy hunting ground for the Indian tennis star and he was relieved to have won there after three years. (PTI)