Leander Paes dedicates world record to India

Veteran lavishes praise on former partner Bhupathi

Leander Paes dedicates world record to India

Leander Paes, who notched up a record 43rd Davis Cup victory on Saturday at Tianjin, dedicated the achievement to the country before asking youngsters to reinvent themselves.

"What a fabulous motivation. It is great to achieve the world record. I dedicate this record to my father, my parents, my daughter Aiyana, to every single Davis captain I had and to every singles Davis Cup doubles partner I had. This world record belongs to India," Paes told PTI in an exclusive interview after his historic win.

"I am so proud of being a son of the soil and playing so long. Many many hard years of efforts, lots of ups and downs. I had to be very resilient," he said, reflecting on his journey.

Paes is already the most decorated Indian tennis players with 18 Grand Slam titles. He has been showered with encomiums since he began his incredible journey and the honours of Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan fittingly came his way.

He has pulled off some incredible victories but struggled to qualify this record and what this means to him.

"It is difficult to put in words after this win from 0-2 down. I had to play three matches for 16 years -- two singles and one doubles. And now to go out there as one of the senior-most players of the team to motivate the boys, I take this responsibility very seriously.

"I hope with this record I can inspire lots of youngsters in whichever field they play or work in to believe that we Indians can be the world beaters and I can prove that Indians can be world champions," was all he could say.

Paes said he is in no mood to retire. "When it comes to playing for the country, I am always available. I feel I am still able to motivate the boys and go out there, bring out the best in them in training and at the same to get that doubles point. It's such a crucial point as you saw in this tie. We were down 0-2 down and it could have been anybody's game. It was a team effort. It explains itself."

Going back in time, Paes mentioned about the 24-match unbeaten streak he weaved with Mahesh Bhupathi in Davis Cup.

"Winning those matches, staying undefeated is something very special. Mahesh and I always had that respect for each other for what we achieved in tennis. Whenever it has come to play for the country we have put our differences aside and put the country first and that's what I respect about him."

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