If age determines the longevity of a player’s career, Leander Paes is someone who stands out from the crowd. While many believe Roger Federer has lost his reflexes at 32, the Swiss legend for sure can seek some inspiration from the Indian tennis star, who displayed a superb show of stamina and strength against the Bryan brothers in the semis of the US Open 2013.
Paes once again reached a major landmark in his career, when he along with his Czech partner Radek Stepanek advanced to the US Open men`s doubles` finals after they stunned the legendary Bryan brothers. And it wasn’t a one-sided contest as the 35-year-old identical twins from California were a set away from grabbling their piece of history, but with Paes on the other side, it had to be a neck-to-neck fight.
The No. 1 seeded Bryan twins comfortably won the first set 6-3, after which there was a change of tactics from Paes-Stepanek, and the former’s aggressive approach at the nets proved to be the turning point of the match.
As Paes (40) and Stepanek (35) were seen enjoying their game, one was forced to think why can’t the legendary Roger Federer win another Grand Slam. Here were two veterans, who were enjoying their game as they stunned the world’s best men’s doubles pair.
Meanwhile, after winning his first few matches in the US Open 2013, Roger Federer once again witnessed an early exit as he lost in the fourth round, for the first time in a decade, where he was defeated by Tommy Robredo in straight sets. However, the celebrations didn’t last long for the Spaniard as he was pummelled by his compatriot Rafael Nadal in the next match - 6-0, 6-2, 6-2.
While there is a tremendous difference between Paes and Federer, at this juncture of his career, if at all Federer feels he is old enough to win another major, he can look at people like Paes and even Stepanek for better results.
While Roger Federer failed at the concept of serving and volleying in US Open, Paes once again proved there aren’t many volleyer in the men’s tennis at the moment who can compete with him. While the modern day tennis has become more of a power game, Paes proved once again what delicate shots at the right spot can do to any opponent in the world. The Bryan brothers are ‘The Pair’ when it comes to men’s doubles, but even they were left clueless with Paes executing his shots in the vacant areas.
As the game progressed and Paes-Stepanek began to dictate terms, one could see the two veteran players enjoying their game, totally unfazed by what the world would think of them. The chest bump and the ‘crab dance’ not only improved the game, but gave a glimpse of the kids within the two of them. At the same time they were playing intelligent tennis, effective enough to topple the best in the business.
And both of have been fighters. While Paes underwent treatment for a parasitic infection in the brain in 2003, Stepanek underwent a spinal surgery earlier this year in January.
After the match, Paes lauded his partner for the comeback. "But I have a great partner in Radek. He had spinal surgery this year and has fought his way back after a tough year. So when we play together we feel anything is possible," he said.
While there is a huge difference between the two formats of tennis, after Paes’ resurrection, Federer for sure can feel better regarding upcoming Grand Slams. As far as playing with a partner is concerned, Federer doesn’t need any. The 32-year-old should realise, he still has a body that is eight years younger that Paes’, the man who once defeated the Swiss’ arch-rival Pete Sampras. If he does, results will follow.