Millennium Post

Game’s bigger than all: Paes

Veteran tennis star Leander Paes does not see anything wrong in players discussing their grievances with the association but says the sport should not suffer in the process. Eleven top players made themselves unavailable for the tie against South Korea and All-India Tennis Association (AITA) was forced to field a depleted team for the Asia/Oceania Group I tie, starting Friday.

As the 39-year-old star spoke assertively about the supremacy of the game, he was asked why he chose to skip the New Zealand tie in September last year. Asked why he did not mentor the young side in Chandigarh, he defended his decision.

‘At that time, I had a prior agreement, which I had signed. In 24 years, I have missed only three ties. It’s long time playing. When you have a contract, you have a commitment. The other two ties, I was injured,’ he said.

Paes said he had discussed the issue with Somdev, who led the rebellion, demanding better playing conditions but did not divulge much about that, saying that would be unfair to Somdev.

‘In the last 12 months, the partners I had, have switched around. I had no choice. As far as myself is concerned, I have never delved into selection, I have never done that even when I was captain. For me, I play for the flag, I am very respectful of the guys sitting alongside. Results come and go, We are here to nurture a team that can win,’ he said.

Talking about the Korea tie, Paes said they would not be under pressure since India would start as underdogs.

‘It’s been many years that coming into a Davis Cup tie at home as underdogs. That’s the beauty of it. It takes off all the pressure. In my 24 years in Davis Cup, there are not many ties we came as underdogs, it was America here (Delhi)and when we played Holland in Jaipur, and Croatia in Delhi. Barring these few ties, there have not been many ties,’ he said. ‘If you look at India’s heritage in Davis Cup, it’s phenomenal what we have done.’

Non-playing captain S P Misra was hopeful that India will have a result to rejoice at the end of the tie. ‘They (players) do lack experience. Playing a live Davis Cup rubber in a five-setter is not something that happens everyday. At the end of the day something good will come out,’ he said.
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