Rio 2016 is a 'very real' target for Leander Paes

Last Updated: Sunday, December 22, 2013 - 15:17

New Delhi: After winning the US Open men`s doubles title this year, Indian tennis veteran Leander Paes on Sunday said he is trying to remain injury-free and working on his serve for the next season.

"I have been working really hard on my rotator cuff. In 2014, I want my serve to get a little better. To get my serve a little better would mean that I need to get a little more range of movement on my backward motion," Paes told reporters here.

"Hence, the flexibility has to be better, which gives me not only power but more variables, more range of direction. That is what I am working on this year," he said.

The 40-year-old said he is focusing on his fitness and trying to take it to the next level.

"For me, Rio 2016 is definitely a very real target. In the new year, I am mostly focusing on trying to stay injury free. Take my fitness levels to another height. I feel at 40 to keep pushing the bar, to keep trying to get better and to continue being a student of my profession motivates me a lot," he said.

"Watching Andy Murray train off the court, what he does for fitness. How Ivan Lendl and how his fitness team has worked to get Murray to get so much stronger, that is something I try and learn from.

"To watch someone like a (Novak) Djokovic, who to me is just a genius in the way he prepares himself for tournaments, those are the people I like to learn from," he said.

Paes, who won his eighth men`s double Grand Slam title at the US Open with Radek Stepanek, said he will continue to partner the Czech player in 2014.

"I am going to be partnering Radek Stepanek for the whole season of 2014. We had a tough 2013 but we made it successful right at the end with the last grand slam," he said.

"It is actually quite unique because in 2014, the way the rankings work, I have not many points to defend. I have got points to defend in only two tournaments -- Wimbledon and the US Open -- rest of the year I can have fun," he joked.

The oldest player to win a Grand Slam said he is focusing on only major events like the four Grand Slams and Olympics.

"At this stage of my career, I am only preparing for Grand Slams. I am only focusing on grand slams, the Olympics or events like that. 2013 was a very hard year for me. For six months of 2013, I barely won any matches," he said.

Asked who he will partner in the Asian Games that will be held in South Korea from September 19 to October 4, Paes said, "I didn`t have a decision at the Olympics what makes you think I will have one in Asian Games. We will see when the time comes."

The build-up to the 2012 London Olympics was marred by a selection row as players resorted to bickering. Both Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna refused to play with Paes and insisted on being paired together.

Tennis legend John McEnroe had recently said that doubles should be scrapped and Paes said, "I definitely don`t agree at all. The Bryan twins, the Woodies, the top doubles players today, the skills they have got are amazing. The Bryan twins themselves are a phenomenal doubles team."

"The best of all times. If they are the best of all times that means they would be better than McEnroe and (Peter) Fleming...It shows when (Roger) Federer plays doubles and wins an Olympic medal with (Stanislas) Wawrinka.

"It shows when Rafael Nadal plays on tour, when Djokovic plays on tour. I think the skill sets of the Bryan twins are just amazing and rest of the doubles players as well," he added.

On German tennis legend Boris Becker coaching Djokovic, Paes said, "I am quite interested and intrigued to see as to what Boris can bring new to the table. I think Djokovic has done a smart thing he has kept Marian (Vajda) also along. Vajda has been a phenomenal coach."

"He has been with him for every Grand Slam he has won and being pretty close to them on interactive basis day to day, you can see it that the team he has got is phenomenal.

"I believe this is Boris` first coaching assignment. I believe Boris at one point he had got John McEnroe to coach him. It will be quite intersecting to see how Boris betters Djokovic."

PTI

First Published: Monday, December 23, 2013 - 10:09

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