Leander Paes had wanted a seventh appearance in the Olympics since a long time. He would be the first Indian and tennis player to do so. He has already achieved the no. 1 position in the world, completed career Grand Slams in men’s & mixed doubles and won his 18th Major at Roland Garros this year. His partner on the hard courts of the Olympic Tennis Centre this time will be Rohan Bopanna.
Critics would be aware of Bopanna, who by default got to choose a partner being ranked no. 10 in the world, preferred Saketh Myneni but the national tennis body chose Paes instead. “We went by rankings,” president Anil Khanna had stated.
He is fourth in the all-time total wins’ record with an impressive 89-33 win-loss record. His attention is already on breaking Ramanathan Krishnan’s Davis Cup record. “I have 48 singles wins. I want to get past 50 (Krishnan’s record),” Paes admits. Breaking Krishnan’s Davis Cup record, “winning two more Majors at least”, winning another mixed Slam to show respect to friend Martina Navratilova (he equalled her Open Era record of 10 at Roland Garros) and winning the year-ender World Championship title are just some of the goals Paes has set his sights on.
Right now, thoughts of the Olympic medal are playing on his mind. There’s no doubt that Bopanna and he make the ‘best possible combination’. They recently joined forces to win the doubles rubber for India against South Korea in the Davis Cup tie in Chandigarh. They now stand 2-2 as a pair in the team event.