At 40, Leander Paes is as sharp at the net as anyone else on the circuit. However, by his admission, his backhand from the baseline is still a problem and he worked with tennis legend Ivan Lendl in the build-up to the US Open men’s doubles triumph partnering Radek Stepanek.
Speaking at an event on Thursday, Paes said he has always done lot of homework before major tournaments. And this time Lendl, Briton Andy Murray’s coach, gave him tips.
“I have shared a great relationship with Lendl since my time as a junior in 1990, I travelled with Ivan for two-and-half years and trained with him and Tony Roche in Australia. I watched Djokovic and Murray and the balance they have on court and wanted Ivan’s views, on what he told Murray about his balance,” Paes said.
“We have been having such conversations over the years. It’s an ongoing thing between us. I have asked him about my serve, a little bit on movement as well,” he added.
Paes met Lendl at the Cincinnati event ahead of the US Open. “My game at the net is instinctive and fast, but my baseline game is something I have been trying to improve,” the 14-times Grand Slam champion said.
Paes, who at 40 became the oldest male player in the Open era to win a Grand Slam, said: “Not everything has been easy in the 27 years I have played the game. I am a student of my craft. I still have things to improve upon. As long as I can do the homework right before a tournament, I can keep playing.” he said.
He paid tributes to his illustrious contemporaries. “Athletes like Sachin Tendulkar and Viswanathan Anand, I have immense respect for both of them and what they have achieved. Someone like Anand has kept on improving his game. What he continues to do in his sport, profession, is fantastic.”
Paes plays in the Thai Open and the Chinese Open before competing in the World Championships in London in November.