“All I can promise is that every time I go on court I will give my best effort.”
It is as simple as that for the 43 year old Indian tennis legend. But to do it for 25 years on professional tour is not that simple. It takes character to sustain for that long, it takes guts to compete every single day and it takes courage to believe you can still go on.
Leander Paes is an inspiration. He is a role model for all the children growing up in India and a success story for all the tennis players around the world. His fighting spirit is unparalleled and his love for the game goes beyond imagination. His on court aggression and his trademark smile off court are two different sides of this brilliant …show more content…
It was the second round match that turned out to be the turning point in Leander’s Olympic medal race. He outclassed world number 74, Nicolas Pereira 6-2 6-3. It was after this win that Leander’s confidence increased and he started believing that he had a chance at the Olympic medal. In the next match it only got better for the Indian as he took out world number 10, Thomas Enqvist in straight sets 7-5 7-6 much to the delight of his fans. The stars were aligning for the 23 year old as he won his quarter finals match against the 14th seed Renzo Furlan 6-1 7-5.
The stage was set for an epic semi-finals clash. The underdog from India was scheduled to compete against one of the greats of the game Andre Agassi. A win here would have guaranteed India a medal.
Leander started the match really well as he took the first set into a tie break. However, missing a volley at a crucial stage gave Agassi a real chance. Agassi pounced upon it and took the first set 7-6. In the second set, Leander ran out of steam. Andre cashed in on his experience of competing at major tournaments to win the match 7-6 6-3.
This is how Andre described this match in his autobiography …show more content…
Still, he’s never learned to hit a tennis ball. He hits off-speed, hacks,chips, lobs — he’s the Brad of Bombay. Then, behind all his junk, he flies to the net, covers so well that it seems to work. After an hour, you feel as if he hasn’t hit one ball cleanly — and yet he’s beating you soundly. Because I’m prepared, I stay patient, stay calm, and beat Paes 7-6 6-3.”
But the task was not over for Leander. He had to play one more match, the bronze medal match. Leander entered the tournament with no expectations riding at his back, but now the entire nation was eagerly waiting for him to win this bronze medal match.
He was feeling the pressure. While he was waiting in the locker room, one of his friends said to him “Relax. Just go out and do your best.” To this Paes replied : “No, I have to win, I’m too close.”
Leander was feeling the heat of the competition and it showed. He lost the first set to Meligeni 3-6. The hopes for a medal was going down but Leander would just get himself together in time to play some outstanding tennis and bring home nation’s first individual medal in more than four