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‘I will show rookies way’

Star player Leander Paes today vowed to show his rookie teammates the way in order to help them make a worthy debut for India in the upcoming Davis Cup tie against South Korea, but acknowledged that the task ahead is ‘tough’. Paes joined the Indian training camp today and practiced for close to two hours with Purav Raja, his doubles partner for the tie starting Friday, and reserves Arjun Kadhe and Ashiwn Vijayraghavan at the R K Khanna Tennis stadium.

Three Indian players will make their Davis Cup debut while Paes has been representing the country in the tournament for the last 20 years. 11 top players, including Somdev Devvarman, Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna, had recently started a revolt against AITA, demanding better playing conditions, and in the process making themselves unavailable for the tie.

‘We have been in this positions a few times, basically leading the team into a tie. Boys are going to have some nerves coming into the tie. I am looking to basically cushion some of that butterflies, the guys will have,’ the 39-year old multiple Grand Slam champion told reporters here.

‘It all depends on how an individual handles the occasion. For me call of the day is to tell them how to handle it. I will show them. We have a tough task ahead,’ Paes added. Paes had some encouraging words to say for his teammates.

‘Yes there are rookies in our team. The exuberance, the fire is with them, you can see some nerves in them. You can see them looking up to the occasion, which is fresh and nice. This is my 24th year in Davis Cup and it’s nice to come into a team that is pushing me hard, getting us to practice hard.’

Like India, there are not much higher-ranked players in the Korean camp, but Paes rated the rivals highly.

‘Koreans are always a tough bunch. They have a lot of physical fitness, fast as a sporting community. They are always tough opponents. It’s a while that I have played Koreans but I expect nothing different this time,’ he said. It was a sweet gesture on his part as Paes first involved captain S P Misra and then his partner Raja in the media interaction.


PREPARATIONS ON FOR SOUNT KOREA TIE


Without an iota of doubt, India has fielded an inexperienced team for the upcoming Davis Cup tie against Korea, but the best thing about the side is that the players and the support staff are realistic, enthusiastic and far from making tall promises. The players, captain S P Misra, coach Zishan Ali have started the preparations for the big challenge ahead as the team slugged it out at the R K Khanna Tennis stadium.

Former national champion V M Ranjeet, Vijayant Malik, who will be in action on the first day of tie on Friday, and reserves -- Arjun Kadhe and Ashwin Vijayraghavan -- trained under the watchful eyes of Misra and Zishan. Leander Paes, the top player of the side, and Purav Raja are yet to join the team although they too have started practicing together in Mumbai.

For Misra it was business as usual while Zishan, for whom it is his first assignment with the national team, it was more of knowing and establishing a rapport with the young players.

Asked if Misra was emotional since it will be his last assignment as captain, pat comes the reply, ‘No, not at all. Everything has to end one day. Nobody can go forever. Players and captains come and go. The games goes on.’
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