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Lee, Hesh are big shoes to fill: Vishnu

India’s second-highest ranked singles player (270) Vishnu Vardhan has no qualms in admitting that the country’s young tennis brigade will have their hands full whenever veterans Leander Paes (39) and Mahesh Bhupathi (38) decide to hang up their boots.

“We have big shoes to fill,” Vardhan, who partnered Leander Paes at the London Olympics recently, told reporters at the Cricket Club of India, where he is the top seed at the ongoing CCI-ITF Men’s US$ 15,000 Tournament.


Vishnu Vardhan. Pic/Bipin Kokate

“Leander and Mahesh have been at the top of the game for so many years now and we all want to ape them. We also know that they’re just a phone call away,” said Vishnu, who claimed that the experience of partnering Paes in London has done wonders to his game.

Partnering Paes
“I would not have made it but for Leander’s ranking. The AITA (All India Tennis Association) picked me thinking I would do justice. It was great to play with Leander. He was very satisfied and his praise means a lot. The experience has helped keep me in good stead for the Davis Cup,” said Vardhan, who suffered a 7-6 (7/3), 4-6, 6-3 second round defeat with Paes to French second seeds Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Michael Llodra.

Vardhan is now focused on improving his singles ranking even though his doubles ranking (198) is much higher. Asked why Indian players tend to focus on doubles as their careers progress, Vardhan said: “Singles matches are physically more enduring. Also, you start getting results sooner in doubles. This is why players make the switch. They feel they are better suited to doubles.”

Vardhan, who has targeted the end of this year to improve his singles ranking, said the Yokohoma Challenger tournament in November will be his last in 2012.

“I’m targeting to finish the year in the Top 250 so that I have a chance to get a wildcard into the next year’s first Grand Slam, the Australian Open,”
he said.  

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