LONDON (Reuters) - India’s Leander Paes says chemistry is the most important factor when choosing a doubles partner and he should know, having now experimented with 100 different players.
Teaming up with Spain’s Marcel Granollers at the Nottingham grasscourt tournament this week meant veteran Paes, a doubles specialist, reached the century milestone in men’s doubles.
Some might raise their eyebrows and suggest Paes just struggles to commit, but constant hopping about between different partners is actually not that unusual.
He is the 47th player to notch up 100 different partners but few can boast his success rate.
Eight grand slam men’s doubles titles and seven mixed doubles crowns have earned him a tidy fortune and the 42-year-old is still going strong, reaching the Nottingham quarter-finals as he warms up for Wimbledon.
“It means I’ve had a very long career,” Paes, who reached 700 match wins recently at the French Open, told ATPWorldTour.com on Wednesday.
“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. It’s been a very blessed journey to go through 25 years and 100 partners.”
Paes has completed the career grand slam in doubles and won the first two of his eight men’s doubles majors (the French Open and Wimbledon in 1999) with compatriot Mahesh Bhupathi.
He also played with Bhupathi to win the 2001 French Open but has since found Czech mates in the form of Martin Damm, Lukas Dlouhy and Radek Stepanek to win his other men’s doubles majors.
“I put a lot of homework into choosing a partner,” Paes, who had Martina Hingis by his side to win this year’s Australian Open mixed title, said. “I like to choose someone whose skill set is my weaknesses and my skill set is their weaknesses.
“I’ve been very good at understanding the strengths and weaknesses of a human being and what I focus on is adapting myself.”
If Paes is to match the 144 partners of record holder amongst active players Frank Moser, however, there will be no settling down any time soon, although when it comes to making relationships work he seems to have the key.
“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.
Granollers will be ditched after Nottingham when Paes reunites with Daniel Nestor.
Reporting by Martyn Herman; editing by Toby Davis