On Wednesday night, Leander Paes rubbished talks that he was retiring and called it a case of ‘put out of context’. “Not the last year at Chennai Open. I hope to be back and hope to be holding this trophy again. I will keep playing hard and keep playing strong. So, there was a misunderstanding the other day.
Somdev (Devvarman) announced retirement and I was asked about it, I said it could be today, tomorrow or six months from now. So it just became ‘Leander is retiring’. So things get put out of context. I still love my tennis and still have passion for it,” he said after a 4-6, 4-6 loss in the Round of 16.
“I hope to win a Grand Slam with this man (Andre Sa) – that’s what I want to do. Days when you win and holding trophies are easy, these days (losses) are tricky,” he would go on to add.
The third-seeded Indo-Brazilian combination didn’t get off to the best of starts to their season and to their partnership as they lost in straight sets to Purav Raja and DivijSharan.
Paes complimented Divij’s serving that tipped the balance in favour of the Indian duo. “I’ve played Divij and Purav before and you’ve got to give them credit. They had a clear game plan and it was visible from the first ten minutes. Divij served high percentage and had big second serve in the second set at break point. Credit where due, they played well,” he would state.
Sa, 39-years-old, is Paes’ 111th partner, chose not to find any excuses in the 67-minute defeat despite getting to Chennai only on Monday. “I don’t think we can make excuses. Like Lee (Leander) said, it’s only one match. I got here early enough to have hits on the center court and on the outside courts, just that we were outplayed today. We pick up from here and move on.”
Divij and Raja have slowly but gradually crept into the top-70 in the world on the back of two ATP 250 titles and four Challenger wins in 2016. But Paes maintains that their combination is their biggest strength. “They’re a set team. The way they play, question is if someone else can adapt to that. The eye-formation, the very specific style that they have, they compliment each other very well,” he would respond to a query in the mixed zone.