Leander PaesLeander Adrian Paes (born June 17, 1973) is an Indian male tennis professional who currently features in the doubles events in the ATP tour and the Davis Cup tournament. He is one of the most successful professional Indian tennis players. He has won various doubles and mixed doubles events at the Tennis Grand Slam events. He is also the recipient of India’s highest sporting honour, the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award in 1996-1997 and the Padmashri award in 2001 for his contribution to Tennis in India.
Apart from his seven Grand Slam victories at doubles and mixed doubles events, he is famous for his several memorable Davis Cup performances playing for India and also for winning the single bronze medal for India in the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games.
Early career (1991-1997): Paes showed promise early in his career by winning titles at the Junior US Open and the Junior Wimbledon. He turned professional in 1991. He rose to the number 1 in the world in the junior rankings.In 1992 he reached the quarter finals of the doubles event in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics with Ramesh Krishnan.
He went one better at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, where he beat Fernando Meligeni to win the Bronze medal, thus becoming the first Indian since KD Jadhav (Bronze in 1952 Helsinki Olympics) to win an individual medal for more than 4 decades. Paes cited the match as one of his greatest performances on the court, in part because his wrist was severely injured. He was awarded the highest sporting honour by the Government of India, the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna in 1996. His first successful year in the ATP circuit came in 1993 when he partnered Sebastien Lareau to reach the US Open doubles semi-final. After having a moderate season in 1994 he reached the Quarter final of the
1995 Australian Open doubles with Kevin Ullyett. From 1996 he started partnering with fellow Indian Mahesh Bhupathi, which later would prove to be a winning combination. This year was not a very successful one, especially in the grand slams with a round of 32 finish at Wimbledon being the best. 1997 proved a much better year for the team of Paes and Bhupathi with the semi-finals of the US Open their best grand slam result. Paes climbed the doubles ranking from 89 at the beginning of the year to 14 at the end of the year.
Rise in doubles (1998-2002): The doubles team of Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi grew stronger in 1998 reaching the Semi-Finals of 3 grand slams, the Australian Open, the French Open and the US Open. In the same year Paes had two of his biggest singles results in the ATP tour. The first one came by winning an ATP singles title at Newport and the second was beating Pete Sampras at the New Haven ATP tournament. In the year 1999, the duo reached the finals of all the 4 grand slams winning the Wimbledon and the French Open, thus becoming the first Indian pair to win a doubles event at a Grand slam event. Paes also teamed up with Lisa Raymond to win the Mixed doubles event at Wimbledon. The year also marked his ascent to the No.1 ranking in the doubles.] The following year Paes partnered with Sebastien Lareau for the Australian Open and Jan Siemerink for the French losing in the first round on both occasions. Paes teamed up again with Mahesh Bhupathi for the US Open but lost in the first round again. The duo had a disappointing second round exit to Australian duo of Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde at the Sydney Olympics, despite high hopes. Paes was given the honour of carrying the Indian Flag at the opening ceremony of the Sydney Olympics
In spite of a winning the French Open in 2001, the team of Bhupathi and Paes had 1st round exits in the other 3 grand slams. Paes was awarded the Padmashri by the Government of India in 2001. The duo of Paes and Bhupathi won the gold medal at the 2002 Asian Games in Busan. In 2002 Leander paired up with Michael Hill for a number of tournaments with moderate success.
2003 - Present :Between 2003 and present, Paes has increasingly focussed on his doubles and mixed doubles game. Leander won the Mixed doubles events at the Australian Open and Wimbledon with Martina Navaratilova, both in 2003. In the 2004 Athens Olympic games he paired up with Mahesh Bhupathi, failing again at the semi finals stage. His next grandslam success was in the U.S. Open doubles event in 2006. Paes lead the Indian tennis team at the Doha Asian Games in 2006 and won two golds in the Men's doubles (partnering Mahesh Bhupathi) and Mixed doubles(partnering Sania Mirza). Paes has maintained his doubles ranking in the top 20 in the world between 2005 and 2007. With wins in the Rotterdam and ATP Masters Series in Indian Wells, Paes has taken his doubles tally to 38, as of May.
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