TENNIS

Leander Paes will be 46 in 2020 but is still eyeing ‘the big goal’ – the Tokyo Olympics

The veteran Indian tennis player is first gearing up for the Asian Games in August.

Usain Bolt was 30 and Michael Phelps 31 when they featured at the Rio Olympics, which was their last appearance at the mega event. But Indian tennis legend Leander Paes is gearing up to compete at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics when he will be 46.

“At this point, it is very hard to set new goals,” the 1996 Olympics bronze medallist told The Indian Express in an interview. “I try to figure new targets and achieve these goals. After you win 15-16 Grand Slams or play in 6-7 Olympics, they just become numbers for you mentally.

He added, “I play because I am passionate about playing for the country and playing my tennis. I enjoy the lifestyle of it...About Tokyo Olympics, that is the big goal. But that too will come after the small goals. It is still 2018 and there is 2019 and 2020 to come.” said Paes in an interview with Indian Express.

However, Paes is first gearing up for the Asian Games in August. The 44-year-old is going to feature in the event after missing the last two editions. Paes has won eight Asian Games medals including the men’s doubles gold with Mahesh Bhupathi and mixed doubles gold with Sania Mirza in Doha in 2006.

“The last one I played was in Doha in 2006 and this year’s Asian Games in Indonesia will be a new challenge,” he said. “We have a full strength team and as we get closer to the Games, we will work on the combinations and pairings.”

The Indian men’s team for the Asian Games consists of youngsters such as Ramkumar Ramanathan, Prajnesh Gunneswaran, Sumit Nagal, and Divij Sharan, along with veterans Rohan Bopanna and Paes. India’s No 1 singles player Yuki Bhambri has decided to skip the Asian Games and focus on the US Open, but Paes feels the continental event is important for him at this moment.

“For me, Asian Games is an important event since I am not playing the full calendar,” he said. “I have cut down the number of tournaments and will be playing in two tournaments this season. I will be playing in Wimbledon before the Asian Games.”

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