Asian Games gives youngsters chance to shine: Leander Paes

Vetern tennis star Leander Paes today said Indian youngsters have a good opportunity to shine at the Asian Games in Incheon in the absence of top players.

Leander Paes

"This will also gives lots of experience to the kids, to the youngsters. They have lot of potential, lot of talent. It is nice for them. This is a stage where they can show they can shine. If they come back with some medal, they can also show their position in the Davis Cup team," the 41-year told reporters here at a clinic at Khar Gymkhana The country's medal hopes in tennis, in which it has scooped up a total of 23 medals in the previous editions, have been dented severely by the pullout of top players such as Somdev Devvarman, Paes himself and Rohan Bopanna.

Somdev had won both singles and doubles gold medals at the 2010 Guangzhou Games, where India bagged five medals including a silver and two bronze.

Paes, winner of 14 Grand Slam titles and an Olympic bronze medallist in singles, felt that India has been struggling with the depth in singles.

"In doubles we have depth as I and Rohan (Bopanna) play at the higher level. There are three four teams who play on the Asian level but as compared to the world level it's a different story altogether. At the world level we have three teams who can do really well but in singles there's only Somdev (Devvarman) who is strong, is fit, puts his heart in everything. But he also needs support," he said. He felt Indians need to improve their fitness and strength to fare better.

"Indians definitely need to improve their entire game.

Indians are more intellectual kind but when it comes to physicality and power we definitely need to improve. It's a
lot about technique, using your legs a lot etc.

"Height is a big advantage. You must have seen guys likeMarin (Cilic) what a big serve he has, the way he played
against (Roger) Federer was awesome. 17 aces in the (US Open) final that's amazing, winning five games almost if you calculate," he said.

Paes is currently locked in legal battle with partner Rhea Pillai for the custody of their daughter Aiyana and he
said it did affect his game.

"For sure it did. I didn't play four months. Last year this time I was number five or six in the world and this year
this time I am number 35 in the world. Any human being will feel the pressure or stress," he said.

He recently played in the Davis Cup tie against Serbia and said it was one of the "most exciting ones".

"Till one month before the tie, nobody gave India a chance that we would even win one match. The Serbians were
such favourites. So full credit to the entire team including Anand (Amritraj) for a decent show.

"We worked really hard for it. Even though we were down 0-2 on the first day, we still believed that we could still
win. Everyone was so sure about the doubles but with Serbians having a formidable pair in (Nenad) Zimonjic and (Ilija) Bozoljac it was pretty difficult then we fought back. I thought that we did a fantastic job. I love playing on this team and they are a terrific bunch of guys," he said.

Paes also said he is looking out for a partner now as Czech player Radek Stepanek is injured.

"Radek is injured now, so I have to look for a partner now for the fall season," he said.

Paes had recently said he would like to end his career on a high and asked about his future plans, he said,"I float like a butterfly and sting like a bee, as long as I can do that, my name is Lee."

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