Leander Paes: Rohan Bopanna and me are a winning combo
Returning to the Davis Cup fold after almost a year, doubles ace Leander Paes says he's excited to partner Bopanna amid reservations in team
India's Rohan Bopanna and Leander Paes during a doubles match in Japan in 2014. Pic/Getty Images
Tennis ace Leander Paes yesterday pleaded ignorance to the issue of India players having reservations in team selection for the upcoming Asia/Oceania Group Davis Cup fixture against China in Tianjin.
The All India Tennis Association (AITA) yesterday picked Yuki Bhambri, Ramkumar Ramnathan, Sumit Nagal, Rohan Bopanna and Paes (Divij Sharma was named as reserve) for the April 6-7 away tie. The AITA said that its Executive Committee had "noted the reservations expressed by some players", but decided to "select the best team irrespective of the reservations." The AITA also said that "any issues between players had to be settled in a nice manner between themselves in the interest of the nation."
Paes, 44, said he had no clue about the so-called reservations. "I don't know anything about this [reservations]. I simply received a call from the selectors informing me that I had been picked for the Davis Cup in China and I'm looking forward to it," Paes told mid-day over the phone from Bangalore yesterday.
'Happy to be back'
Paes has not been a Team India regular since April last year, when skipper Mahesh Bhupathi did not include him in the playing line-up despite him being picked in the six-member squad. "It's a highly satisfying return for me to the Davis Cup fold," said Paes, adding: "I'm very happy to wear the India blue again. I have always felt an immense amount of pride while playing for the flag and that emotion will never change. My heart always beats for India."
According to reports a day earlier, the reservations had been expressed by Bopanna, who has previously too refused to partner Paes — during the 2012 London Olympics — where he chose to pair up with Bhupathi while Paes was made to play with rookie Vishu Vardhan.
Paes however, said he had no problem whatsoever playing alongside Bopanna. "I have immense respect for Rohan's talent and I'm looking forward to playing with him for the country. I feel Rohan and myself are a winning combination," added Paes, who is one win away from creating a Davis Cup world record of doubles wins. He is set to surpass Italy's Nicole Pietrangeli (42 wins). It's his own form though that has the former India Davis Cup captain excited.
"I have worked hard and got my ranking up into the Top-50 [World. No 46], and my result at the recent Dubai Tennis Championships [runner-up with USA's Jamie Cerretani] keeps me in good stead for the China fixture," Paes signed off.