Leander Paes may have kept everyone guessing whether he would participate in London Olympics but Vishnu Vardhan, his doubles partner for the mega event, said he was always sure that “things would fall in place“.
Paes, who was frowning over being paired by AITA with a low-ranked player like Vardhan, on Wednesday night confirmed that he would compete in next month’s London Games.
“I was never worried. People around me were panic-stricken but I was calm and composed. Actually Leander himself had not come out openly and all of it was coming through media. I was sure that things would fall in place soon,” Vardhan told PTI.
“I was only focussing on my preparations and was going on with my practice regime,” he added.
On Paes’ comment last night that he was not sure ‘if he (Vardhan) had grass court shoes’, the Vardhan said, “May be he wants me to be ready, equipment wise, before the Games. I think he is concerned and just wants to make sure that I am ready.”
Vardhan said he may be a lower-ranked player but he has a game with which he hopes to provide good support to Paes during the Games.
“I have been named as a player who has a good game, specially the strong serve. I think it will compliment Paes’ beautiful net play. Paes has always looked for a player who serves well and I think we can do well together,” he said.
Vardhan said he plans to fly to London once the Wimbledon is over to start practicing with Paes.
The men’s doubles field at the Olympics will be full of stars players like Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, the Bryan bothers but Vardhan stressed that his pairing with Paes should not be viewed as a weak combination.
“Every team will have chance. For Leander this has been an incredible year. He won a Grand Slam and also the Master Series tournaments. I am confident that we can be quoted as one of the contenders,” the 24-year-old Vardhan said.
“Playing with Leander means a lot to me. What he has done for the country in the last 25 years through tennis is incredible. Olympics is big and I will support him.”
Vardhan said that even when he won a silver medal at the 2008 Asian Games at Guangzhou with Sania Mirza, their team was not given a chance.
“At that time also I was a last-minute choice to pair with Sania. We started as underdogs. My ranking was not good and we were not seeded also. But we reached the final. I learnt so much from Sania at that time,” he said.
Sania, in her recent hard-sitting statement had lashed out at everyone -- AITA, Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi -- for not being given the deserved respect but she had some good words for Vardhan.
She had blasted Paes for laying conditions for being teamed up with Vardhan, saying that the young player was very talented.
“I am really thankful to Sania for those kind words. It was encouraging,” he said.