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HometennisLeander Paes terms Carlos Alcaraz as 'most exciting player in 10 years'

Leander Paes terms Carlos Alcaraz as 'most exciting player in 10 years'

Indian tennis legend Leander Paes on Friday said Carlos Alcaraz is the most exciting young player to have emerged in the last 10 years and praised the Spaniard for ‘redefining the sport’ with his speed.

Paes praised the 20-year-old Alcaraz, who is currently ranked world No 2 and has two Grand Slam wins in his career so far. He has an offensive game which appeals to him a lot.

“You look at the two top ones, Iga Swiatek and Alcaraz. I think Alcaraz is probably the most exciting new player in the last decade. For me, he has redefined the game. His speed… Alcaraz has redefined the game of tennis with his speed,” Paes told the media here during an event.

“His technical knowledge of mathematics, his offensive game with a chop forehand or a drop shot — we were taught that the drop shot is a stupid shot, a ‘chaalaki shot’. My coach used to rap me on the knuckles if I played drop shot,” Paes added.

Paes, who is in the race with five other players from around the world to be included in International Tennis Hall of Fame’s class of 2024, said he was surprised to see the pair of Rohan Bopanna and Yuki Bhambri crashing out early from the race to the gold medal in the Asian Games.

“I was really surprised that Rohan and Yuki lost in that early round — did not expect that. But also really happy to see Ankita Raina win that first one. She was really unlucky in her last match that she lost; she was up two love in the first set but lost in the final set,” Paes said.

The 18-time Grand Slam winner in doubles said he was disappointed to learn about the challenges faced by Nagal, reported by PTI following which he received support from many fronts.

“I was really hoping that Sumit would win that singles because he really needs some wins. It was quite hard to see what he put the previous day in papers, the struggle and obviously one knows the struggle all too well,” Paes said.

Talking about the pair of Ramkumar Ramanathan and Saketh Myneni, who clinched the silver medal on Friday, Paes said, ‘I was impressed and really happy with Ramkumar and Saketh. In the semis, after they won that first set, Ram served for the match.

“They had match points; in the tie break I was screaming because they crossed so early they had 2-3 match points. They crossed really early and the Koreans just hit it right down the line comfortably… (I am) so passionate about our athletes.”

Paes has been included in the six-member list for the players’ category for a rolling period of three years to be nominated in ITHF class of 2024.

The official announcement of nomination from both players’ and contributors’ category inductees for the class of 2024 will be on November 1.

‘For me to be nominated as the first nomination into the player category, as the first Indian to do that, is very special because dad (Vece Peas) has motivated me to push the boundaries and put India on the map,’ said Paes, who was accompanied by his father and daughter Aiyana, who is currently training in the sport.

The nomination is determined on two categories of votes.

The first is votes from fans, the winner of which comprises three per cent of the votes, the runner-up comprises two per cent and the third position of fan vote gets one per cent.

‘But the actual induction into International Tennis Hall of Fame will be determined if you get 75 per cent of the total votes — not just the fan votes but there are about 140 votes approximately given to past hall of famers, players, coaches and media — that is where the real meat of the voting will be,’ Paes added.

‘I am one of the six nominations in the players’ category. There is Carlos Moya, Flavia Pennetta, Cara Black — my mixed doubles’ partner who I won the Wimbledon with and then the Australian Open.

‘There is Ana Ivanovic and Daniel Nester, who also was my doubles’ partner,’ he added while mentioning the other names in the list.

“There is another category which is also the contributor category, huge congratulations to Richard Evans and Vijay Amritraj. My vote will be for every one of them. We are not competing against each other. If I had my way, I’d vote for everyone,” Paes commented.

(Published 29 September 2023, 16:00 IST)

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