New Delhi: Since the last 22 years, Leander Paes has been the face of India in the Davis Cup. At 38 years of age, his hunger to perform for the country has not diminished one bit.
On Tuesday, the ace tennis star was supposed to reach Delhi early morning from Mumbai. However, he could only make it at 1.30 pm because of a delayed flight.
In less than an hour, Leander was at the R.K. Khanna Stadium courts to practise with his Davis Cup teammates. The session lasted more than three hours.
“It is the game that always excites me… We are players and we are good at playing the game on the field,” said Leander rather emphatically when asked whether the rebel players should resolve their differences with the All India Tennis Association (AITA). “Yes, everyone should sit down and solve the issues.”
Leander is not too perturbed about all his teammates being complete newcomers in the tie against Korea that begins from Friday.
“It is not the first time we are in such a situation. It is an inexperienced side, but I have full faith in the boys. I am confident they will rise to the occasion,” he said.
“The guys will have butterflies in their stomachs. But it all depends on how the individuals handle the situation.
“The fire and exuberance is with them. You can also see some nerves in them. You can see them looking up to the occasion, which is really nice,” he added.
During the practice session, Leander paired up with Purav Raja to play with reserves Ashwin Vijayaraghavan and Arjun Khade. With Leander and Raja slated to play the doubles, V.M. Ranjith and Vijayant Malik are expected to feature in the two singles matches.
While the players trained with vigour under coach Zeeshan Ali, even the non-playing captain S.P. Mishra sounded enthusiastic. “The mood at the camp has changed with the arrival of Leander,” commented the former star.