Indian tennis ace Leander Paes on Thursday said the secret behind the success of Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer is that they continue to reinvent themselves despite the wear and tear that comes with age.
“They continue to reinvent themselves. They continue to learn new shots. Federer had a surgery, he was in rehab and came back to win two Grand Slams. You look at Rafa Nadal. He had shin problems… knee problems,” Paes told reporters on the sidelines of the launch of a jewellery collection from SENCO Gold in the city.
“These boys were away from the circuit at the end of last year when Andy Murray and (Novak) Djokovic were doing well. Now you see the wear and tear of those two at the end of the 2016 season and now they couldn’t play at the US Open.
“Now these two legends Nadal and Federer won two Grand Slams each. Let alone the Masters,” he added.
While Nadal beat Kevin Anderson to cap off an extraordinary 2017 season as the No. 1 player in the world, in which he also won the French Open and made the Australian Open final against Federer, the latter Swiss legend bagged his eighth Wimbledon title, 14 years after his first in July.
Federer also won the Australian Open earlier in the year.
“I think that the true class of a champion is how you reinvent yourself to create excellence over longevity,” Paes, 44, said.
Though refusing to comment on the Davis Cup where India take on Canada for the World Group playoff on Friday, Paes backed doubles specialist Purav Raja to do well. Raja replaced injured N. Sriram Balaji for the Davis Cup recently.
“I am playing with him now (in the men’s doubles) and he is good. I look forward to our partnership in future.”
Paes and Raja, who joined forces recently, were knocked out of the men’s doubles following a close 4-6 6-7(7) defeat against the Russian pair of Karen Khachanov and Andrey Rublev in the second round of the US Open.
Paes, who is not part of India’s Davis Cup team, said he had nothing to prove at this stage and he plays for the love of tennis. He added that playing for India has always been special for him and he has given his best every time he has represented India.
“It gives me great joy to play for my country, my city and for my people. I have done my best when I have played in the Davis Cup, Olympics and Asian Games and even when I play in a individual tournament like Wimbledon…I always play for my flag.”
Paes also informed that his father, Vece, is working with the medical security team at the Salt Lake Stadium for the upcoming FIFA U-17 World Cup starting next month.
“To have the U-17 World Cup here. My father (Dr. Vece Paes) is doing a lot for medical security of the stadium. The Salt Lake Stadium looks fantastic. When I came here before, it was not that great but now it looks great. If I can catch a few matches it would be great,” the tennis ace quipped.