Leander Paes, 46, aims eighth Olympic & 100th Grand Slam appearance

Indian tennis star Leander Paes, 46, says there is still motivation left in him as he wants to make a record eighth Olympic appearance. The Indian planned this season to be his last but the season got suspended mid-March due to the coronavirus outbreak and the Tokyo Olympics were postponed for 2021.

Paes, who turns 47 on Wednesday, has made 97 appearances on the Grand Slam level over the course of his career and he would love to make three more and reach a new milestone. “Olympics is the main factor. To make sure that India’s name is forever etched in the history books is a huge thing for me,” Paes told the Hindustan Times.

“I’ve run the race so hard and so well already, and to sprint another 100m for the sake of record books is very relevant. Whether the Olympics happen in 2021 or not is a significant issue. Plus, to play the main draws of one hundred Grand Slams is not too bad, no?” Paes, a former doubles world No.

1, admits nothing will be the same once tennis returns. “(Laughs) It’ll be very strange not being allowed to do the chest bumps since one founded and started it way back in the day. I don’t think the world post Covid-19 will be the same as before, and it goes for tennis too.

High-fives might be low-fives with the feet, racquet taps might replace handshakes. There is a lot of hope around the world that tennis could be one of the first few sports to come back, because there is no real human contact in it.

But you’ll have to play with modified rules: Don’t cross the net after every two games. Maybe, you don’t share the balls on the court; your opponent can have six balls on one side and you can have six on another.

We also might be playing behind closed doors, which makes it very surreal, especially for someone who loves interacting with the crowd,” Paes said.

Leander Paes doesn’t seem to be too optimistic on the chances of seeing the US Open this year

“Global travel is going to be very restrictive so that’s the primary concern.

Even the way it is planned—play 64 singles draw and 24 doubles draw. What is that? You can’t give (ranking) points to that. That format, in my opinion, is only catered for local players. And I’m waiting to see the rise of Covid-19 in America because of the protests in support of George Floyd, which is such an important thing at the moment because every life does matter,” Paes said.

Moreover, Leander Paes doesn’t expect the season to continue: “I don’t. I think even the beginning of 2021 is in jeopardy at the moment.”

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