“Is it 95 or 96 (number of doubles partners) or something like that,” Leander Paes asked back, when a mediaperson asked him to comment on his new doubles partner (Fabio Fognini) for the 2014 Aircel Chennai Open.

To have played with so many players with varied styles, it would obviously have been difficult for the reigning US Open doubles champion, but Paes said, “I am lucky to have had that many partners. It is easier for me to adapt to their styles.”

On Fognini Paes said, “he is a phenomenal singles player. He has got a big forehand, plays big from the baseline and has a good double-handed backhand. I am looking forward to doing well with him.”

The multiple Grand Slam champion felt this time, “the (centre) courts are different than the last few years. The courts have more slope; there is a marginal difference. (It) is not dangerous for a singles player. The bounce is (also) high,” said Paes.

“It’s a huge void,” said Paes on the gap between India’s top singles player Somdev Devvarman and the next player (in terms of rankings). “We can do a lot better. They (Indians) need more physical presence.”

On why he has done well especially with Czech partners — Radek Stepanek, Martin Damm, Lukas Dlouhy, Martina Navratilova (Czech-origin) — Paes gave three reasons. “First they are hard-working and disciplined, they have no big egos and have a dry sense of humour.”

Paes hopes he will stay injury-free at least for a couple of Grand Slams in 2014. He stressed that he is ready for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

When asked why seniors couldn’t give way for youngsters (with regard to Davis Cup), the 40-year-old Davis Cupper replied, “You have read my mind. I am going to take the right advice and get back to you guys.” 

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