Kolkata: Leander Paes has done it again for the 26th time in a row to be precise. Paes and his partner Adil Shamasdin were crowned doubles champions at the Leon Challenger. Paes has now won at least one title every year for the past 26 years which is a testament to the fact that Paes has been in the circuit for long. The win handed the Indian his first title of the season. With this win, Paes clinched his 20th ATP Challenger title.
Paes’ last Grand Slam in the men’s doubles event came in 2013 with Radek Stepanek at the US Open. In mixed doubles, he is still a force to reckon with, winning three titles with Martina Hingis in 2015 and the French Open last season. Paes, who was named a reserve in India’s Davis Cup team for the Uzbekistan tie and Shamasdin defeated Luca Margaroli of Switzerland and Caro Zampieri of Brazil, 6-1 6-4 in the title clash at the $75,000 hard court event.
In what is being seen as a highly controversial decision, Paes was named a reserve along with Rohan Bopanna by the new non-playing captain Mahesh Bhupathi who has picked four singles players in the squad to face Uzbekistan in the Davis cup tie.
Bhupathi has said that he may pick either Paes or Bopanna, if required, as a doubles specialist in the tie, slated for April 7-9 in Bengaluru. With this triumph, Paes has shown that age is not a factor for the seasoned veteran. At the age of 43 he has proved yet again that overlooking him would be a mistake. The young Indian Davis Cup contingent could very well use the experience of Paes who has been playing the Davis Cup for India since 1990.
With recent reports stating that Yuki Bhambri might miss the tie against Uzbekistan, this is just the opportunity Paes needed to remind the national team of his worth.