Calcutta/New Delhi: After following the advice of the well-wishers, Leander Paes had decided not to react to the innuendoes fired by the likes of Mahesh Bhupathi, Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna. He chose to answer the critics by dishing out great performances. In Wimbledon he was in the doubles quarter finals and went till the final in the mixed doubles. In the ongoing World Team Tennis, Leander is also in rousing form.
Now with the D-day round the corner, the Atlanta Games bronze medallist has decided to open up, speaking to the media at length. On Friday, Leander said he was hurt by the selection controversy. “Yes I was hurt. Yes, I was very stressed but at the end of the day that is life, isn’t it? Leander told a television channel.
“It was hard to go through Wimbledon and play day in and out. What you have to do as a professional athlete is to get away from all the negatives and the politics. I was able to do that well,” said Leander.
“I was able to block out everything. It was in the news and on the TV everyday but you got to get away from all that and play hard. Despite all the tribulations, we made it to the final and lost a really tough match. I know how to play tennis. I know how to win a Grand Slam and Olympic medals. So I don’t concentrate on that stuff.”
On whether he would have an edge at the Olympics considering that he made it to the mixed doubles final at the Wimbledon, Paes said: “I have won a medal already in the singles. So I know what it takes to win an Olympic medal,” he added.
Leander said he was looking forward to playing with both Vishnu Vardhan and Sania.
“I am really looking forward to playing with Sania. I enjoyed playing with her at the Asian Games in Doha. She is a great talent and has achieved a lot in her career. For me regardless of which side I play, supporting the team and getting a medal is what is important.
“I don’t concentrate on the peripherals. If it means I play on the deuce and Sania plays on the advantage or vice-versa, that’s what it will take. At the end of the day it is about the team and what it takes to play our best,” insisted Leander.
Asked how difficult it would be to partner a debutant, at the Olympics, Leander said, “I brought Vishnu over to the Wimbledon for the last four days of my mixed doubles campaign there. He had never been to Wimbledon before so I got him to come and stay there with me and practice on the grasscourts there.”