Leander Paes is a remarkably gifted athlete. He is fast across the court, has wonderful hands and court-sense, conjures angles that most other tennis players may not even dream of, and has somehow managed to retain razor-sharp reflexes, even though a couple of months ago, he turned 40, making him one of the oldest active players on the ATP Tour.
Now, Paes isn't the kind of player who obsesses over hitting the gym or bulking up. A friend said the other day that he seldom practises with manic zeal on the eve of a Grand Slam, unlike some others who feel the desperate need to arrest the passage of time with hours on the treadmill or pumping iron or some such. Paes is 40, yes, but to him, that is nothing more than a number. He has often stated that you are only as old as you feel, and he most certainly feels a reasonably young 40.
Paes is not just a wonderful athlete, but he is also a very intelligent man who figured out reasonably early in his career that he didn't have the weapons to be a top singles player on a consistent basis. He had his moments in singles play, most notably while representing the country. His Davis Cup record is little short of exemplary, and he picked up a most treasured bronze at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, but Paes's legend on the Tour was built on his extraordinary doubles skills that have netted him a host of Majors in men's and mixed doubles with several different partners.