On Wednesday at Aegon Open, Nottingham , Leander Paes joined forces with Marcell Granollers, making Granollers the 100th guy on his list of all his men’s doubles partners.
Paes , who is still known for his on and off partnership with Mahesh Bhupathi, reacted by saying “It means I’ve had a very long career. It’s quite intriguing in an individual sport like tennis to have actually had that many doubles partners. I always try to learn new tricks and keep reinventing myself. Having new partners, I try to incorporate these in our practice sessions. Perhaps they want to learn from my volleys or movement at net or I want to learn from their baseline game or their return game. It’s been a very blessed journey to go through 25 years and 100 partners”.
Bhupathi was his partner three times out of 8 when he won a Grand Slam.
This has made him the 47th guy who has switched over 100 partners, 71 at tour level and 29 at challenger level.
“I put a lot of homework into choosing a partner, because I like to choose someone whose skill set is my weakness and my skill set is their weakness. Whether it was a Martin Damm, who has a big serve and an excellent backhand return or a Radek Stepanek who has an all-court game.
“Mahesh Bhupathi was mostly a baseliner and then his volleys improved down the track. David Rikl too. There were so many different partners with different skill sets and I’d learn from their strengths, so we complement each other as a team. With all the moving variables that you get to learn a lot about the partnership,” Paes said.
“I’ve been very good at understanding the strengths and weaknesses of a human being and what I focus on is adapting myself.”
He is also a member of the “100 Partners Club”, the 6th active one with Frank Moser (144), Andre Sa (119), Olivier Marach (109), Carlos Berlocq (104) and James Cerretani (104)
“The majority of the time with these 100 partners I’ve led the team, but off the court I look to build the chemistry. When you’re on the court handling the stressful situations, you need to know that your partner has your back.
“Making someone feel comfortable on the court is something I’ve been blessed with. The best partnerships are the ones where there is a lot of give and take, where there is good communication and chemistry other than the tennis skill set,” he said.
Paes also won seven mixed doubles Grand Slam titles — three with Cara Black, two with legendary Martina Navratilova and one each with Lisa Raymond and Martina Hingis.