Only the best players should represent the country in the Olympics, feels Indian tennis stalwart Leander Paes who has begun preparations with the Tokyo Games in mind. Talking on the sidelines of the Tennis Premier League auction on Tuesday, Paes said he has started hard training focussing on the French Open, Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympics to be held in July-August.
"I am aware of the French Open, the Wimbledon and also the Olympics. The three big ones in the near future and that's what I will be focusing on," he said. "I have always been a patriot and believe that the only best players should represent the country," the 47-year-old said while referring to the Olympics. In December 2019, Paes had said that 2020 would be his final year in professional circuit but COVID-19 pandemic struck the world.
Paes said he took a complete break from tennis during the COVID-19 pandemic and has begun training since the last three weeks. "By the end of 2019, I was jaded and tired from all the travelling and playing at the highest level. The enforced lockdown helped me spend quality time with my dad, my mom, my daughter and I was rejuvenated," said Paes.
"I have begun training hard, back to my diet and have lost 6 kgs in three weeks. I am getting back into my rhythm," he added. Paes is the co-owner of Mumbai Leon Army in the Tennis Premier League and a mentor of the event.
"Besides providing a much needed platform for our players to showcase their talent, the TPL also brings an entire community together, with the owners, celebrities, sponsors, mentors, coaches and players, which is so important for a sport to grow," he said.
Paes also said that he won't be surprised if Rafael Nadal betters Roger Federer's all time Grand Slam title record by winning the French Open, but he was quick to add that "my champion (Novak) Djokovic would better all records."