The Indian spearhead of the Davis Cup campaign for nearly two decades, Leander Paes had to take a tough decision to skip the World Group play-off tie against South Africa, but has already talked to the captain, coach and his dad, Doctor Vece Paes, to lift the morale of the team.
“It is tough to miss such an important Davis Cup tie, but I can’t help the situation. If I take a risk, it may threaten my career. Last night, I was discussing with the doctors and they told me to take rest for two weeks,” said Leander, as he spoke from New York.
He said that he would rest and recover for a week in the US, before returning home.
“At one stage, I thought that I wouldn’t be able to finish the doubles final at the US Open. But once you step on court, whether you are winning or losing, you don’t come out till you finish,” said Leander, as he talked about the right arm that has been hurting him quite a bit, on the shoulder and at the elbow.
“Basically there is a lot of swelling, and it has to be brought down first, before we take aggressive treatment. Am only icing it now and taking anti-inflammatory medication,” said Leander.
The 36-year-old Leander, champion of ten Grand Slam titles, said that he had always been fair to himself and the team, and emphasised the importance to retain such a standard.
“What is the point being there, if I can’t practise with the team and be of help,” he said.
Expressing confidence that the team would pull it off against South Africa, which is without its No.1 player, Kevin Anderson, Leander observed that Rohan Bopanna in partnership with Mahesh Bhupathi would be able to clinch the crucial doubles rubber.
“Rohan and Hesh make a formidable team. They have been wanting to play the Asian Games and Olympics etc., and have the confidence. It is not as if they are up against the Bryan brothers or any such crazy team. It would be Weslie Moodie and Jeff Coetzee most probably. We should be able to take care of them. Som has been playing great tennis recently and has been catching up with the ranking. I will be in touch with the team. We have a great chance to make the World Group”, opined Leander.
He may be in New York, but Leander’s heart is in South Africa. He may be upset about not being able to play for the country, but his daughter Aiyana must be happy that he would be playing with her more.