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Paes’ grasscourt lesson for Mark Nielsen

Calcutta: Leander Paes had predicted his match against Mark Nielsen would be different from the Davis Cup five-setter he had won in Wellington last year.

He was dead right as nine games was all that the New Zealand No. 1 could manage in a lop-sided three-setter in Friday’s opening rubber of the Asia-Oceania group I round 2 tie at South Club.

“I knew he doesn’t like grass and tried to exploit that weakness right from the start. I got a good start, was in good rhythm and I think I taught him a lesson in grasscourt tennis,” said the Indian ace.

“I am really pleased with the way I served and my return was also satisfactory. Once I got the start, I think he (Nielsen) knew he was in trouble. It’s good that the match got over in three sets, which gives me some time to conserve energy for the doubles tie,” Paes felt.

Paes said the surface and the weather heavily tilted the balance in his favour. “Conditions here are tailor-made for me.

It’s really the kind I thrive on. I just had to fine-tune my groundstrokes a bit after landing here.”

About his glorious run of success in Davis Cup, Paes said: “I think this is just the ideal stage for me to perform and I hope to continue doing so for a few more years.”

NZ pin hopes on Hunt

The New Zealand camp is expecting Alistair Hunt to bring them back in the contest. Hunt plays Rohan Bopanna in the rescheduled match. “We hope it will be a close match and experience will prevail over youth,” said non-playing captain Glenn Wilson.

“Hunt likes to play on grass and has played a lot in places like Thailand and Indonesia. That means he knows what heat means. We are taking it one match at a time and hoping that Hunt will make things even for us.”

Hunt is supposed to play the doubles too, which means he will have to play two matches on the same day. “He says he will be able to play in both. We’ll see how he feels after the singles and decide accordingly,” informed Wilson.

The non-playing captain said it’s going to be more of a mental battle now. “We are trailing but four matches are still to be played. The mental aspect becomes important in such situations.”

Nielsen, after the hammering he got from Paes, felt the start made the difference. “Paes started well in the first set and got away from there.

It was the same in the third set. He had a very good match anyway,” said Nielsen.

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