For Leander Paes, Davis Cup is more cherished than a Grand Slam

Updated: Mar 05, 2019, 17:13 IST | Subodh Mayure

Asked about which performances he cherishes the most - Grand Slams or Davis Cups - Paes replied: "Tough to decide. I think Davis Cup... I've got the world record now and I played it over 30 years."

TV commentator Charu Sharma (left) and Leander Paes at Khar Gymkhana yesterday. Pic/Shadab Khan
TV commentator Charu Sharma (left) and Leander Paes at Khar Gymkhana yesterday. Pic/Shadab Khan

India's tennis ace Leander Paes, 45, may have won eight doubles and 10 mixed doubles Grand Slam titles, but representing the country in Davis Cup is closer to his heart than winning Grand Slams. And Paes, who has a world record 43 doubles wins in the Davis Cup to his name, still dreams of figuring in the prestigious event.

Asked about which performances he cherishes the most - Grand Slams or Davis Cups - Paes replied: "Tough to decide. I think Davis Cup... I've got the world record now and I played it over 30 years. I started playing in 1991 as a young boy, so it's a nice span. The Grand Slams - Australian, French, Wimbledon, US Open are obviously the biggest tournaments in the world, but playing for the country has given me the greatest joy. When I play in a Grand Slam, I play for the country, but it's more [as a] professional. When I play in the Davis Cup, Olympics or Asian Games, I am representing the country.

Tennis is an individual sport and playing for the country gives me the greatest joy," Paes told mid-day at Khar Gymkhana yesterday on the sidelines of a promo launch of Tennis Buddies, the first Indian feature film on tennis.

When asked how eager he is to play in the Davis Cup again, he replied: "Will see... when the chance comes... already got the world record... already done well in it." Paes participates in various tournaments across the globe. However, the 1996 Olympics bronze medallist feels disheartened whenever he has to face an Indian opponent. Last week, Paes and his French partner Benoit Paire overcame Indian pair of Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan 6-2, 7-6 (7-2) to enter the quarter-final of the Dubai Tennis Championship. In January, he partnered Mexican Miguel Angel Reyes-Varela and lost to the same Indian pair in the quarters of the Maharashtra Open in Pune.

"It's always a sad feeling when you have to play your own countrymen. We travel all the way from India to represent our country and to play against each other in foreign lands and draw each other in the first round is a tough one," Paes said. Talking about the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, he said: "It's still far away. I've got a very busy season right now. I arrived from Dubai yesterday and I am leaving for another tournament tomorrow. There are so many tournaments lined up this year. I am looking forward to the season."

Biopic on me? Let's wait, says Leander Paes
Some of Leander Paes's favourite Bollywood films include sports biopics like Bhaag Milkha Bhaag and Chak De! India. When asked whether he is expecting a biopic to be made on him, he said he will do so when the time is right. "Yes, I'm looking forward to it. There are many people who come forward and offer to make a feature film on my career, but I am still playing. So when the time is right, I will do it," said Paes. "Around the world when you look at some of the great sporting movies, they were able to capture not just the essence of the sport, but also the culture of it [sport]," added Paes, who is yet to see Tennis Buddies, but is looking forward to watching it soon.

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