For the last 23 years, whenever he has travelled to New York, Leander Paes has stayed at the same apartment and eaten at the same places. It's a routine developed over years, one he looks forward to every season. It's his second home. He quickly corrects you: "The world is my second home, considering the amount I travel."

The big, bad world of professional sports can be cruel for the faint-hearted. Waking up every Monday in a new city to begin a new week on the tour has a charm early on in an athlete's career. But it soon becomes drudgery. "It's the hardest part. Tennis is an expensive sport as far as travel goes. And you have to travel a lot as there's only one tournament in a year in India. It is also a very individual sport and it can get very lonely on the tour," he says.

Paes, 40, won his 14th Grand Slam doubles title last month when he won the US Open, partnering Czech Republic's Radek Stepanek. In doing so, he became the oldest man to win a major championship in the Open era. It's a record he cherishes. Like all sportsmen, he plays for records. But unlike most, he makes no bones about it. Winning keeps him going. Records keep him hungry. "They motivate me. After you retire, what remains with you are your records, your trophies. It is a testimony to the hard work you've put in, the tears you've shed and the battles you've won. Not just on the court," says Paes.

In his 23 years as a pro athlete, there's hardly any corner of the world Leander hasn't played at. Which is the city closest to your heart, you ask him, expecting to hear New York, London or Paris. "Wolfsburg," he says with a smile.

Leander Paes More Stills

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