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Focussing on singles way to go for Indian players: Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi

You have got to look at all different disciplines on its own, whether it is singles or doubles or mixed doubles — it is all a part of tennis, says Paes

PTI Mumbai Published 27.08.23, 10:11 AM
Leander Paes.

Leander Paes. File photo

Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi are not in favour of more Indians choosing doubles over singles, saying the highest accolades in the sport go to individual performers.

"No, why would we do that?" Bhupathi said when asked if Indians should focus more on doubles.


"We have not had a quarter-finalist in a Grand Slam of the singles since Ramesh Krishnan (in the mid-1980s). I think that is where we should focus," he said. "The bar has been set very high by us (in doubles). If you are going to try and beat that, it is going to take a few decades.

"You have got to look at all different disciplines on its own, whether it is singles or doubles or mixed doubles — it is all a part of tennis. (But) focusing on singles is the way to go because that is where the highest accolades are," added Paes.

Paes highlighted the rise of this year's Wimbledon champion, Spain's Carlos Alcaraz — who also became the world No. 1 in a rapid ascend at the age of 20 — even as Indian players are forced to deal with basic issues.

"When you look at preparing youngsters for that (singles), it is very hard. You look at the Alcarazes of the world... he is 20 years old right now and he is already the No. 1.

"Our kids at 18-19 are still trying to come out of the juniors (level) to decide whether they are going to go to college or going pro — it is a different world," Paes, who has 18 grand slam titles in men's doubles and mixed doubles, said.

Paes said the country will have to be realistic with its aspirations.

"That is where realism has to come in to see the level of support, the level of encouragement, the level of training and the level of dollars that is invested in to nurture talent. It is all relative," he said.

Bhupathi said it is wrong to assume that it is going to be a tough time ahead for Indian singles players.

"It is subjective," he said. "Till two years ago, Carlos Alcaraz was... last year he won a championship at the beginning of the year and this year he is No. 1 in the world. So, I do not think it is a fair statement to make," said Bhupathi when asked if any Indian player will be able to play singles at the highest level.

"Anybody can come out of anywhere. There are a couple of 14-15-year-old (Indians) who are making waves in the world," he said.

Paes admitted it would take time for the country to produce a singles champion.

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