Paes to partner Bopanna

Tennis Davis Cup

Paes to partner Bopanna

Veteran tennis player Leander Paes will feature for India in their home tie against Serbia in the World Group Play-Off, which starts here in the City on September 12.

Making the announcement here at the KSLTA Stadium, India’s captain Anand Amritraj said the inclusion of the seasoned campaigner would make the home side go ‘one level up.’

“The availability of Leander would make us go one-level up and we can do some damage against Serbia,” he noted.

“It would be intimidating for the opposition to have Leander playing doubles.”
He explained that the move to get Paes, who last featured in the Davis Cup in April 2013 against Indonesia, started this January at the Chennai Open.

“I first talked to him at the Chennai Open about the possibility. He told me that he won’t be available for the first two rounds (Chinese Taipei and South Korea) but could be available for the third round if he was needed.

“Then (Rohan) Bopanna sounded out to him last month about playing this tie and things fell into place on Saturday.”

When asked how Saketh Myneni (Bopanna’s regular doubles partner) has taken the move to bring Paes back, Amritraj said he was a team man.

“Both Bopanna and myself talked to Saketh about the possibility of Paes a couple of weeks back and he didn’t have problems.

“He is a team man and he said ‘whatever is best for the country’ and I applaud that gesture.”

On the uncertainity of Djokovic, Amritraj joked: “I was just talking with the their captain sometime back but he wasn’t giving anything away.”
“I can only keep guessing like everyone else at the moment. But if he had played in the final of the US Open, then it would have been very difficult for him to come,” he observed.

Amritraj, who was happy with the relaid courts, had some reservations about the 4.00 pm start (traditionally, Davis Cup matches start at 11.00 am).

“I tried to change the timings and spoke with everybody who could change it.
“But I was told that Serbian television and DD (Doordarshan) wanted the start at a particular time,” he rued.

“The thing about the late start is that I’m very concerned about the weather. Looking at the conditions now, even if it rains on one day, we will be in trouble,” he observed.

Meanwhile, Bopanna said Paes and he will form a formidable team. “Since Paes has been ranked as high as No 1 and me No 3, I’m sure we will form a formidable team.

“Leander brings a tremendous amount of experience to any partnership and I look forward to playing with him.”

India’s singles challenge will be spearheaded by Somdev Devvarman, who is landing in the city on Monday, and Yuki Bhambri, while Bopanna and Paes, who has won 40 of the 50 doubles rubbers he has played in the history of the Davis Cup, will play the doubles rubber, which is slated for Saturday.

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