'Didn't send best team to Olympics'

Last Updated 18 September 2016, 20:07 IST

Leander Paes raised questions over Olympic selection stressing that India didn’t send the best team for the last two Olympics.

"I can very clearly say that in this Olympics and last Olym­pics we didn’t put the best team forward,” he said.

Paes was forced to partner Vishnu Vardhan in London 2012 while the veteran indicated that he should have been paired up with Sania Mirza for Rio Olympics.

“This Olympics the mixed doubles was a great opportunity. What more does a man need to do than win four Grand Slams in 14 months. There were no more tournaments to win, I could not create anymore tournaments. Long story short, let’s nurture these kids," he reasoned.

Paes partnered Saketh Myneni for the first time in men’s doubles and was left so impressed that he expressed his desire to partner him on the tennis circuit. Paes said he enjoyed playing with the 28-year-old and even said he had in him to win a doubles Grand Slam.

"I am impressed by Saketh’s serve and return. I think he is a natural ad court player. I think he is a really good leader. In India, most guys want to follow and having played with 107 players, I kind of know his personality is not so bad. He gets out there and even in tough situations he would say Lee crack your return. I like that someone is working with the perspective of winning. If we can have 4-5 matches together we will do really well to build a partnership here," Paes said, after losing the doubles tie to Rafael Nadal and Marc Lopez on Saturday.

"I would love to play with him. I had a lot of partners who is much less talented than him. If I get Saketh for six months and if he keeps working hard, this guy can win a Grand Slam with others, not just with me. This guy can be a Grand Slam winner, he is a hell of a player."

Myneni, however, said singles remains his priority. "Singles is still my priority as long my body permits.”

Paes, 43, even felt that Myneni and he should be considered for the future Davis Cup doubles tie too. Myneni had earlier partnered in Davis Cup with Rohan Bopanna, who had pulled out of this tie due to injury. Myneni was also the preferred choice of Bopanna over Paes to partner in the Rio Olympics.

"I always believe it is the decision of the selection committee and captain but considering the way we played against a gold medal winning team, good God, it will be crazy to switch anything around but having said that I am here to support the team.”

(Published 18 September 2016, 19:55 IST)

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