Indian tennis icon Leander Paes' final Australian Open has come to an end on Tuesday as he and partner Jelena Ostapenko bowed out of the mixed doubles event. The duo, who needed a wild card to enter the tournament, were beaten by Britain's Jamie Murray and American Bethanie Mattek-Sands on Tuesday in straight sets 2-6, 5-7.
Paes, 46 years, old announced last year that he would be retiring at the end of the 2020 season and said he would be playing select tournaments this year and hopes to play one final Olympic Games in Tokyo. Ostapenko is the 2017 French Open champion and also won the mixed doubles event at Wimbldon last year.
Paes did not enter the men's doubles draw in Melbourne as his ranking was not high enough for the same. In the first round of the mixed doubles event, Paes and Ostapenko had beaten the Australian wild card duo Storm Sanders/ Marc Polmans in a super tie-breaker.
Paes won the men's doubles event here in 2012 and also reached the finals here in 2006 and was a three-time mixed doubles champion at the Australian Open - winning in 2003, 2010 and 2015. Speaking to Indian Tennis Daily after his first round win about his fondest memories on the tour, Paes had commented, "My first match.
My first Grand Slam match I ever played was court Number 21 right there in the park. And as a young boy, I was very shy. Never talked as much like this. I used to write my daily quiet, eat my dinner, peaceful, alone. I remember coming to Australia in 1990.
I thought I could do well. I’d worked really hard in the first round, I drew No. 1 seed junior and everyone was like “Hey, bad luck. You know, it’s a tough draw”. No worries, french opens coming up” and I thought I can beat them.
And then I played on court 21 again and I beat them and I go to the final. And then I remember I can remember it now like it was last week. That was the first time I thought, hey, I’m not so bad on this thing. I can do something because I never, ever in my whole life I’ve never considered myself a talented technical tennis player.
I’m athletic. I’ve got the brain. I got the technique. That was the first time I said, hey, maybe, maybe I can do something with this. If you had told me then that I would play for so many years, I would think that you’re joking.
I never imagined I would have this beautiful life. I’m very thankful for the gifts and relationships and the motivation. Some of the fans that come out to support me now. I started playing when their grandfather was there and his son grew up with me because that’s my age.
Then the daughter’s grown up with me. It’s the Elina’s age, 22. Some of them are married now and the kids are there. So it’s really it’s a nice thing to see how you’ve come to Melbourne, Australia.
You go to Paris, France. You go to Miami, Palm Springs. You go to Tokyo. You go to, you know, from Ecuador. Today, one of my young fans from Mexico and from Ecuador was in the stands today and they’ve come all the way from Leon, Mexico. For an Indian boy from Calcutta, it’s not so bad."