'Blessed' Paes closing in on fourth decade as pro and 1,000 racquets
Indian veteran Leander Paes says he feels "blessed" to have had such a long career, as he closes in on his fourth decade as a professional, having accumulated 18 Grand Slam doubles titles and an impressive racquet collection.
Paes continued to defy his years on Friday, two weeks before his 46th birthday, winning his opening doubles match alongside in-form Frenchman Benoit Paire as he goes in search of fifth Roland Garros trophy.
For a man who once beat a young Roger Federer in Indian Wells qualifying and won singles bronze at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, it has been some road.
"I've been around for 30 years, I've been around a long time. I've seen 12 generations. I've seen guys like (Pete) Sampras here, I've seen guys like (Pat) Rafter," he said at the French Open.
"Tennis has been a beautiful journey for me, I've been very blessed to have such a long career. Especially here, to win this four times."
Paes has no plans to stop any time soon, especially with the Tokyo Olympics coming up next year.
He has already appeared at seven Games, more than any other Indian and any other tennis player.
"It (the Olympics) is a long ways away. I've already got the world record at the Olympics. Now to push it up one more would be amazing," he added.