Leander’s desire to succeed helps him win: Akhtar Ali

Kolkata, July 14 (IANS) Ace Indian tennis coach Akhtar Ali believes Leander Paes’s undying desire to succeed has helped him be at the top of his game for such a long time.

Leander claimed his 16th Major title on Sunday by winning the Wimbledon mixed doubles event.

Over the years, Leander has played with over 100 men’s doubles partners and looked at ease on court even at the age of 42. He and his mixed doubles partner Martina Hingis clinched the final in straight sets, thrashing Austrian-Hungarian fifth seeds Alexander Peya and Timea Babos 6-1, 6-1.

“Very good performance from Leander at the age of 42, he is extremely fit and he used to train under me, so I know about his fitness. He trains extremely hard for all this. His desire is so much, he dreams that he wants to do well and hence the results,” Ali told IANS.

“There is lot of difference between perfect and more or less perfect tennis but he was perfect in the win.”

Elaborating further on the final in which Leander was in supreme form, Ali said: “If you look at his movement, he was so quick across the court. In tennis you have to move your legs and if you have seen in the finals he was quick to anticipate and very agile to get to the ball.”

“Even though he is a big man with big hands he is very flexible. He is very positive too, if he has a chance to play a tough shot he just wont’ hold back. I think why Martina and Leander succeeded was because Martina is a left footed player. She helped him immensely with the talent and experience she has had of playing in grass over all these years.”

Hingis also played a pivotal role in another Indian success story, helping Sania Mirza win the women’s doubles title at Wimbledon on Saturday, beating Russians Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina 5-7, 7-6(4), 7-5 in the final.

“Sania’s got a big forehand, she makes good returns. Martina helped her too being left footed, she covered well. One of the reasons why Leander and Sania failed together was because they are both right footed players,” Ali said.

The former Davis Cup captain also expressed his delight at the country’s treble triumph with Sumit Nagal pocketing the boys doubles trophy alongside Sania and Leander.

“It is one of the finest days in India tennis. To win three titles is unbelievable. I have been to Wimbledon for 40 years, unfortunately (Rohan) Bopanna lost (doubles semi- final), otherwise it would have been even more special,” he said.

Father of India’s Davis Cup coach, Zeeshan, Ali also said in a bid to produce quality singles players India should invest substantially in junior tennis so that young kids can train here instead of going to some foreign country.

“We have won laurels in junior tennis before, but there is a lot of difference between senior and junior tennis. Last ten years or so they are playing to become doubles players. We have some good single players like Somdev Devvarman and Yuki Bhamri but I do not see any other.”

“They are having these scholarships to go abroad, play and study but by the time they are out of the college they are 24-25, then it becomes difficult playing men’s singles. In India they do not spend much on junior tennis, but they have to if you want to have a good pool of singles players in the supply line, he concluded.

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