Paes' Olympic partner hangs fire
Chennai, Jan 1 (IANS) Leander Paes Sunday declined to state who he will partner at the London Olympics later this year, now that he has split with long-time buddy Mahesh Bhupathi, but asserted that his priority would be to stay injury-free through the rather cramped season.
'Both are my priorities,' he said, referring to his ambition of winning an Olympic medal as also a Grand Slam that eluded him last year. 'But this summer season will be very tricky as we have the French Open, followed by Wimbledon, then the Olympics and then within two or three weeks, the US Open.'
'I didn't win a Grand Slam title in singles or doubles last year. And this being an Olympic year, that is definitely a time when I will peak.
'I have come pretty close to it (Olympic medal in doubles) in the past, along with Ramesh Krishnan at the Barcelona Olympics,' he added.
While Bhupathi is to partner Rohan Bopanna at the Chennai Open starting Monday, Paes has opted to pair with Serbian ace Janko Tipsarevic of whom he spoke in glowing terms.
'He is a phenomenal athlete, he is in the top 10 now. He is a great guy and I haven't played with him much, but I hope we can do well,' said Paes.
However, when queried about his partner for the London Olympics, he said: 'That is for the All Indian Tennis Association (AITA) to decide. I am not going to answer it right now,' he said.
Paes dwelt at length on the Generation Next of Indian tennis and lamented that for the promise and potential, the young guns were still to fire at the highest level while not enough support was being accorded to them.
Three home players, led by Somdev Devvarman, currently the highest ranked Indian at 85, besides Yuki Bhambri and Vishnu Vardhan have been given wild cards in the singles main draw.
'We have to ask ourselves this question. How much support are we giving them? Somdev is a great talent. His tennis is top class.
'Yuki has Bhambri is another good talent. He was World Junior No.1 and not many Indian players have that talent. But we have not heard as much of him as we would have liked.
'Vishnu Vardhan is another talent. The guy won a Davis Cup match. The guideline while extending a wild card to a young player is not whether he would go on to win, but you have to look at whether the guy is working hard on his game.
'We need to nurture six, seven, eight players. We need more players that can keep India in the Davis Cup World Group. We have always played some of the best tennis in Davis Cup regardless of our ranking. We have always punched above our weight,' he said.