Leander Paes

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Leander Paes, Some records: 1993-2015; Graphic courtesy: The Times of India, Sep 13 2015

This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.

(Martina Hinggis with Paes) Leander's 15 Slam victories are the highest among Indians, Graphic courtesy The Times of India

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Atlanta, 1996

The Times of India, May 19 2016

Rohan Alvares

Nearly 20 years on from Atlanta 1996, Leander Paes remains the only Indian tennis player to have stood on an Olympic top-three podium.However, the veteran, who will turn 43 next month, remembers every little detail like it took place, including a cameo appearance by a butterfly, which, he says, played a special role in his inspiring bronze medal-winning feat.

The sight of a then 23-yearold Paes standing proudly besides his semifinal conqueror and eventual winner Andre Agassi and silver medallist Sergi Bruguera is one every Indian fan remembers fondly .What many may never have heard of before though, is the immense pain Paes had to play through on his way to writing history as a result of a severe tear in his wrist which he sustained in the agonising lastfour loss to Agassi. “I still re member that butterfly that helped me win that match (against Fernando Meligeni),“ he said during an interaction. “I had torn my wrist in the semifinal against Agassi. I had a 70 % partial tear. I lost the semifinal to him because of that. I remember the trainer came on and said `you've torn your wrist, there's swelling from the inside, blood's oozing, stop'. In the craziness of playing, I turned around and said, `you're a local trainer, he's American, I've lived for this moment, strap me up and let me play .' So they put me in a hard cast for 24 hours.“

With the straight-set defeat to Agassi coming on a Friday , Paes had till Sunday morning to get in good enough shape for his third-place duel with Brazilian Meligeni.

“That was the first Olympics where you had to play for the bronze because all the other events in the history of Olympics -you had gold, silver and two bronze. Such was my luck. You have to work hard for everything,“ he laughed. “So I played at 11.30am for the bronze and they cut off the cast at 9.30am and I tried to warm up. But the vibrations on my hand with the ball. I hit two shots and I couldn't do it.“

And it wasn't just butterflies in his tummy that he had to deal with over the course of his memorable 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 win.“I was down a set and serving at 30-40, facing a break and a little butterfly came by and she sat on my racket. When she came, I realised it wasn't about tennis. The first time I didn't figure it out, so I just flicked her off. She came back again and sat right on top of my Prince graphite pro. That's when I got the message.

“I picked her up in my hand and with Meligeni, I started having a little banter. He was a very close friend of mine. It distracted him a little bit. I won that game and got into what, in tennis we call `the zone',“ he explained.

Paes records

The Hindu, September 12, 2015

The phenomenon that's Leander Paes

The following is a factfile of Indian tennis ace Leander Paes, who has won his 17th Grand Slam title. Paes won the Olympic bronze medallist in 1996. Despite having won only one career title in his singles career, Paes has a phenomenal record in the doubles. His total doubles career titles is 55 and his mixed career title is 9.

» Olympic bronze medallist in 1996

» Career titles -- Singles: 1; Doubles: 55

» Mixed Doubles: Career titles: 9.

» Victories: Mixed doubles: Australian Open 2015, Wimbledon 2015, US Open 2015.

» 1999: Wimbledon/Grass, partner Lisa Raymond beat Anna Kournikova and Jonas Bjorkman

» 2003: Australian Open/Hard, partner Martina Navratilova beat Eleni Daniilidou and Todd Woodbridge.

» 2003: Wimbledon/Grass, partner Martina Navratilova beat Anastassia Rodionova and Andy Ram.

» 2008: US Open/Hard, partner Cara Black beat Liezel Huber and Jamie Murray.

» 2010: Australian Open/Hard, partner Cara Black beat Ekaterina Makarova and Jaroslav Levinsky.

» 2010: Wimbledon/Grass, partner Cara Black beat Lisa Raymond and Wesley Moodie.

» 2015: Australian Open partner Martina Hingis; Wimbledon, partner Martina Hingis; US Open partner Martina Hingis

» 1999: French Open/Clay, partner Mahesh Bhupathi beat Goran Ivanisevic and Jeff Tarango

» 1999: Wimbledon/Grass, partner Mahesh Bhupathi beat Paul Haarhuis and Jared Palmer.

» 2001: French Open/Clay, partner Mahesh Bhupathi beat Petr Pala and Pavel Vizner.

» 2006: US Open/Hard, partner Martin Damm beat Jonas Bjorkman and Max Mirnyi.

» 2009: French Open/Clay, partner Lukas Dlouhy beat Wesley Moodie and Dick Norman.

» 2009: US Open/Hard, partner Lukas Dlouhy beat Mahesh Bhupathi and Mark Knowles.

» 2012: Australian Open/Hard, partner Radek Stepanek beat Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan.

» 2013: US Open/Hard, partner Radek Stepanek beat Alexander Peya and Bruno Soares.

Equals record in Davis Cup

Till 4 Feb 2017 Leander Paes and Italian legend Nicola Pietrangeli were locked at 42 wins and 12 defeats apiece in Davis Cup doubles.

Amit Karmarkar, At 43, Leander goes for the record 43rd Feb 04 2017 : The Times of India (Delhi)

Paes was the best player on view when he played with Saketh Myneni against Rafael Nadal and Marc Lopez of Spain in the World Group playoff in Delhi in 2016.

Till Feb 2017 Leander Paes and Italian legend Nicola Pietrangeli were locked at 42 wins and 12 defeats apiece in Davis Cup doubles (see graphic).

The 43-year-old Paes had played his first Davis Cup rubber in Chandigarh against Japan's Shuzo Matsuoka and Shigeru Ota in 1990. It's a great co-incidence that his first doubles partner in Davis Cup ­ Zeeshan Ali ­ was Indian team's coach in 2017.

“I remember we won 18-16 in the fifth set,“ said Zeeshan. “It was a fabulous initiation of Paes to the Davis Cup. I guess such rousing start has helped him bond well with the concept of playing for the country .“

Paes was just just 16 then and Zeeshan 20. The latter also said that Paes played in adcourt at the time. By 2017, Paes was predominantly a deuce-court player as hitting power-packed backhands from the baseline is not his strength.

Interestingly, Paes' doubles association is not limited to just Zeeshan in the 2017 tie. He and the Kiwis' non-playing captain Alistair Hunt played as a doubles pair in Junior French Open and Junior Wimbledon in 1990. Asked if he should have continued playing singles, Paes said: “Maybe so 15 years ago. But now, it's a different game altogether.

During the draw ceremony , Maharashtra Governor Vidayasar Rao may have used a questionable analogy when he said “Leander Paes is India's Roger Federer“ even though both have 18 grand slam titles on different planets: singles and doubles. Many are aware that Federer and Stan Wawrinka beat the daylights out of Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi in the 2008 Beijing Games. But do you know Paes-Bhuptahi had defeated Federer and Yves Allegro in the 2004 Athens Games? And Federer was the twice Wimbledon singles champion then.

Paes’ doubles partners

The Times of India, June 26 2015

Amitava Dasgupta

It was a rare `century' but one which was inevitable. Only , the 100th partner, Spaniard Marcel Granollers, was not one Leander Paes had bargained for and came a little sooner than he had anticipated and calculated. The milestone had been on his mind since the end of last year. Had everything gone as per his wish, Paes would have had Novak Djokovic as his 100th partner, sometime after the US Open this year. “Many top players have expressed interest in being my 100th partner. I've spoken to Novak also, he's very keen... We have to find a suitable week when he can play with me,“ Paes said at the start of the season.

Having ended 2014 at a 15-year low of world No. 28, Paes teamed up with South African Raven Klaasen -his 99th partner -and regained some lost ground to climb back into the top 20 of the doubles rankings. But then their form dipped and even another change in partner -Canadian veteran Daniel Nestor -midway through the season is yet to yield the desired results.

With Nestor deciding to take a break the week before Wimbledon, Paes wouldn't normally have played the Nottingham meet. But these are worrying times for the 42-year-old Indian who is still driven by the desire to play his seventh Olympic Games -at Rio next year.And to fulfil that dream, Paes has to garner as many ranking points as he can to stop the freefall. And so he had no choice but to pair up with whoever was `free' this week -It happened to be the 29-year-old Spaniard. Paes is the 47th tennis player to reach a `century' of partners but few have been as successful as the Indian. Fifteen Grand Slam doubles titles, including 8 in men's doubles, and 54 career doubles titles on the pro Tour in a career spanning 25 years is testimony to Paes's resilience and willpower. “It means I've had a very long career,“ Paes, who reached 700 men's doubles match wins recently at the French Open, said after making the Nottingham Open quarters. “It's been a very blessed journey to go through 25 years and 100 partners.“

Top seeds Paes and Granollers were knocked out of the ATP Aegon Open following a quarterfinal defeat against unseeded Chris Guccione and Andre Sa, here. Paes and Granollers, the 100th partner of the Indian, lost 4-6, 6-3, 7-10 to Australian-Brazilian team in the grasscourt event.


2015: Wimbledon

The Times of India

Leander Paes wins 16th Grand Slam title at Wimbledon

Jul 12, 2015

LONDON: A vintage Leander Paes clinched his 16th Grand Slam trophy, winning the mixed doubles event of the Wimbledon Championship with legendary Martina Hingis after a dominating win over Alexander Peya and Timea Babos.

Seventh seed Indo-Swiss pair drubbed the fifth seed Austrian-Hungarian team 6-1 6-1 in the lop-sided summit clash which was over in just 40 minutes.

It was Paes' eighth mixed doubles title and second with Hingis. They had won the Australian Open early this year.

42-year-old Paes has eight men's doubles crowns in his Grand Slam collection.

Paes' win capped an incredibly successful Wimbledon for India as the country took three titles this year. Sania Mirza won the women's doubles and Saumit Nagal won the junior boys doubles trophy.

Paes and Hingis literally toyed with Peya and Babos, who surprisingly failed to put any resistance.

In no time Paes and Hingis pocketed the first set as all they needed was 19 minutes to nose ahead. Two broke Babos in the fourth game and Peya in the sixth for a 5-1 cushion. Hingis served out the set when Paes smashed a volley winner.

Paes and Hingis kept the pressure on the Austrian- American combination right from the first game of the second set. Peya failed to negotiate a Paes return at deuce to hand the seventh seeds grabbed the opportunity to break them.

Babos' could not handle a Hingis return and the Indo- Swiss pair got an early break. There was no stopping them from there as they raced to victory in less than one hour.

Babos failed to hold her serve even once and it was on her return that Paes hit a deft backhand volley winner to close the contest.

2015: US Open

Leander Paes’ career highlights as in Sept 2015; Graphic courtesy: The Times of India

The Times of India, Sep 13 2015

Leander Paes once jokingly attributed the success of a partner in mixed doubles to him being “good with women“. Now, in 2015, credited with nine Grand Slam titles in the mixed event, the most by a man in the Open era, the tongue-in-cheek remark works equally for the 42-year-old Indian. On a blow-hot, blowcold day at Flushing Meadows, the fourth seeds in the US Open mixed doubles -Paes and Martina Hingis -battled back from the dead, trailing 1-4 and 2-5 in the decisive super-tiebreak to clinch their third mixed doubles title of the year. Paes and Hingis beat Americans Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Sam Querrey 6-4, 3-6, 10-7 to become the first pair since Margaret Cour t and Marty Riessen in 1969 to win three major titles in a year. Hingis said. “I'm so lucky and fortunate to have Leander as a partner. I know he has my back. The understanding we have for the game is amazing. I feel we're almost invincible on court. I think we have that extra point when we walk on court, we have a little bit of this aura.“


Wins French Open mixed doubles, beats Sania

The Times of India, Jun 04 2016

Prajwal Hegde

Leander Paes and Martina Hingis, unseeded and with a combined age of 77, showed that the years had done little to dim the fire, combining soft hands with strong nerves to power to a 4-6, 6-4, 10-8 win over the second seeds, India's Sania Mirza and Croatia's Ivan Dodig, in the French Open mixed doubles final. The veteran Indian who had won eight men's doubles titles and nine mixed crowns coming into the title round and Hingis, with four major wins in the combined event, had never won the mixed crown here.

While Hingis and Paes, looking sharper for most part of the first set, lost their way in the tenth game as the second seeds nailed the set.

Paes and Hingis then broke Sania's serve in the third game of the second set when Dodig buried an overhead into the net. The 31-year-old Croat then produced two successive heavy backhands, both going across that broke Paes' serve in the sixth game to level scores.


Davis Cup: dropped after 27 years

Shrivathsa Sridhar, DAVIS CUP - aes axed after 27 years of duty, April 7, 2017: The Times of India

Veteran Says Selection Criterion Not Followed By Bhupathi

Exactly 27 years after making his Davis Cup debut , doubles specialist Leander Paes found himself on the sidelines.Dropped from the team for the match against Uzbekistan by his former partner and non-playing captain Mahesh Bhupathi, the senior pro watched on as fellow reserve Rohan Bopanna took his place in the side.

Paes, who began his Cup career as a 16year-old partnering current coach Zeeshan Ali in the 4-1 victory against Japan in March-April 1990 in Chandigarh, wasn't going down without a fight on Thursday . Visibly hurt, the 43-year-old hit out at Bhupathi, suggesting that a mere phone call would have saved him the trouble of travelling from Mexico just to receive the news that he wasn't needed. “Whatever the criterion is, you should stick with it,“ Paes told reporters. “At one time, it is based on rankings and at other times on likes and personal preferences. Then, it is based on who plays deuce and ad courts. Now, it is on form. On form, you guys know who has played better,“ Paes, who won a Challenger event in Mexico last week, told reporters.

While the 37-year-old Bopanna has had a rough time resulting in a 9-7 win-loss record in 2017, he has reached a final in Dubai with Poland's Marcin Matkowski and won the Chennai Open partnering Jeevan Neduncheziyan. Paes has a 5-7 win loss record this year and is ranked No. 53 to Bopanna's 24.

However, Paes said the fact that he had won a title in Leon, which is at a higher altitude than the city , gave him the advantage if form was the criterion. “I'm here to support the country and the Davis Cup based on the criterion I was told ­ form. That being said, the team was chosen two weeks ago based on ITF form in Futures events. I just won an ATP Challenger. Bengaluru's altitude is 920m while Mexico's is over 1800m. When I got here yesterday for practice, I was feeling the ball well. I was told late last night. Mahesh, captain, has the right to choose. Basically the criterion was asked ­ obviously , it was not clear. The criterion is form, which doesn't seem to be the case. I believe in one simple phone call ­ letting me know if I'm needed or not.“


Paes wins Santo Domingo, his 2nd Challenger title

October 15, 2018: The Shillong Times

Old warhorse Leander Paes is still going great guns as the veteran tennis star won his second Challenger level title of the season, lifting the Santo Domingo Open trophy with partner Miguel Angel Reyyes-Varela. The second seeded Indo-Mexican pair, playing its second consecutive final, came from behind to beat Ariel Behar and Roberto Quiroz 4-6 6-3 10-5 in the summit clash, which lasted one hour and 26 minutes. Paes, who is ranked 69, added 110 ranking points to his kitty and shared a prize purse of $7,750 with his partner. Last week, the 45-yearold Paes and Angel ended runners-up at Montrrey Challenger to Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan and Marcelo Arevalo. Paes also ended runner-up at Chicago, Dallas on the ATP Challenger circuit and won the Newport Beach event.


Paes drops out of top-100 for first time since 2000

Nov 12, 2019: The Times of India

Veteran tennis star Leander Paes dropped out of the top-100 bracket for the first time in 19 years, slipping to 101 after losing five places in the ATP doubles chart. With 856 points, Paes is now fourth-highest ranked Indian player behind Rohan Bopanna (38), Divij Sharan (46) and Purav Raja, who re-entered the top-100 by jumping eight places to 93.

The last time the 46-yearold Paes was placed outside top-100 was in October 2000 when he was ranked 118. Paes, one of the finest tennis players that India has seen, dominated the doubles circuit with compatriot Mahesh Bhupathi between the late 1990s and early 2000s.

In August 2014, Paes had lost his place in the top-10 and in another two years time he was outside the top-50 as well. Paes, winner of 18 Grand Slam titles, has not played since US Open this year in September.

Meanwhile, in the singles, Prajnesh Gunneswaran continues to be India’s topranked singles player though the Chennai left-hander dropped a rung to 95 and was followed by Sumit Nagal (127, +2), Ramkumar Ramanathan (190, +9), Sasi Kumar Mukund (250, +2) and Saketh Myneni (267, -1). PTI


The final bow

Prajwal Hegde, January 29, 2020: The Times of India

MELBOURNE: Leander Paes made his final bow in Melbourne Park on Tuesday in typical fashion, fighting to the finish in an Australian Open mixed doubles second-round clash. Paes, 46, playing alongside Latvia's Jelena Ostapenko on Court No.3, fell to the tricky American-British combine of Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Jamie Murray 2-6, 5-7 in 67 minutes.

The Indian has three mixed doubles titles from the Australian Open besides winning the men's doubles with Czech Radek Stepanek in 2012. He played his first major here in the juniors, back in 1988, two years later, he rose to the world No.1 position.

"Today, it was all very professional, I don't think it has sunk in yet," a smiling Paes said. "I knew we were playing tough opponents today, they are contenders for the title." Paes said he has a treasure trove of memories from Melbourne Park.

"My first Grand Slam I played was here, Court No.21 (in the juniors)," he said.

"The different partners I have played with here, the various ups and downs that I have had here. I can literally go court by court, which court plays differently, which courts have special memories. Court No.3, where we played today, I have played some really special matches, tough matches.”

Highest number of doubles wins in Davis Cup history

2018, April: Helps India beat China 3-2

Kumaraswamy K, April 8, 2018: The Times of India

Legendary Leander

He creates history in Davis Cup – but Indian tennis looks woefully short of budding talent

With a 43rd win barely two months short of his 45th birthday, Indian tennis ace Leander Paes became the most successful doubles player in Davis Cup history on Saturday. The 1996 Olympic bronze medallist teamed up with Rohan Bopanna to defeat the Chinese pair of Mao-Xin Gong and Ze Zhang, in a do or die game to advance India into the world group playoffs. This achievement is a tribute to Leander’s grit and fitness – considering he made his Davis Cup debut in 1990.

Though Davis Cup may have lost its sheen to Grand Slam tournaments and some major ATP tournaments over the past decade, all top-ranked players have turned up for national duty in the tournament. It is in this context that Leander’s enduring spirit is even more inspiring. He raises the bar whenever he dons the Indian jersey. But Indian tennis has been struggling to throw up more players like him, and Mahesh Bhupathi. Apart from them, Sania Mirza and Bopanna have been the only two Indian players to have won doubles Grand Slam titles.

India’s bigger worry is not being able to produce quality singles players despite many promising starts at the junior level. Currently, Indian hopes rest on a handful of young players like former junior world number one Yuki Bhambri, Ramkumar Ramanathan and 2015 junior Wimbledon doubles winner Sumit Nagal. The All India Tennis Association needs to look beyond merely organising tournaments in urban centres and focus on increasing the catchment area. But talent spotting is only a job half done. AITA needs to either provide sustained financial support to their top 10 players or invest in hiring the services of some world-class coaches to nurture this talent for a brighter future.

The seemingly ageless Leander Paes, 44, secured a sought-after record, becoming the most successful doubles player in the history of the David Cup with a record 43rd win as India staged a stirring fightback against China, completing a thrilling 3-2 win in the Asia-Oceania Group 1 second-round tie in Tianjin.

The Indians were two points away from a humiliating defeat when Paes and Rohan Bopanna were 4-5 down in the second-set tiebreaker against Mai-Xing Dong and Ze Zhang, but the duo stayed strong to pull through for a 5-7, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (3) victory at the Tianjin Tennis Centre.

In elite company: Paes surpassed Italian Nicola Pietrangeli for the most number of doubles wins in the competition’s history. He now stands at 43-13 in doubles in 55 ties. The 44-year-old Kolkatan, however, is fifth in singles (48-22) and overall (90-35) lists. Tunisia-born Pietrangeli, aged 84, tops both lists at 78-32 and 120-44, respectively, from 66 ties. He is also a two-time French Open singles champion (1959-60).

The victory is yet another feather in Paes’ richly decorated cap and comes after a series of public mudslingings with Bopanna and Bhupathi over playing in the Davis Cup and the Olympics. “Their class saw them through,” Bhupathi said, referring to Paes and Bopanna. “Down 5-4 in the second set tiebreaker, they both hit clean winners to keep the match alive, which reflects their experience too.”

Personal life

Mahima Chaudhry

See Mahima Chaudhry

Rhea Pillai and child

AmitAnand Choudhary| Leander, Rhea fail to reach out-of-court settlement Feb 25 2017 : The Times of India (Delhi)

Since 2014 Paes and Rhea Pillai are locked in a legal battle over maintenance and custody of their 11-year-old daughter (born in 2006), when Pillai filed a case of domestic violence and harassment against Paes and his father in a magistrate's court in Mumbai. She had sought maintenance but her plea was opposed by Paes, who claimed that he was not married to Rhea.

Bombay high court had refused to grant Rhea relief in the dispute. On the direction of the HC, they had tried mediation but failed to resolve their differences.

While hearing an appeal filed by Pillai challenging the HC’s order, the SC, on January 13 2017, asked the couple to go for mediation.

After mediation proceedings for six days in the Supreme Court, tennis ace Leander Paes and his estranged partner Rhea Pillai failed to sort out their differences for an `out-of-court' settlement.

Leander guilty of abuse: Court

TNN & AGENCIES, February 28, 2022: The Times of India

Mumbai: A metropolitan magistrate’s court has held that tennis player Leander Paes committed various acts of domestic violence against expartner model-actor Rhea Pillai. It directed him to pay a monthly rent of Rs 50,000 apart from monthly maintenance of Rs 1 lakh to Pillai if she chose to leave their sharedresidence.

Pillai approached the court in 2014 seeking relief under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, saying she was in a live-in relationship, akin to marriage, with Paes for eight years. Metropolitan magistrate Komalsing Rajput passed the order earlier this month, made available now.

Pillai claimed that Paes, through his acts and conduct, “caused verbal, emotional and economic abuse, which resulted in tremendous emotional violence and trauma”.

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