Leander Paes termed this Indian Davis Cup team as a ‘rough diamond,’ which has what it takes to return to return to the World Group.
After the Asia-Oceania (Group I) relegation tie with a victory in the doubles rubber, Paes said: “This team is a rough diamond. With a little polishing and professionalism, it can definitely get to the World Group.”
The 39-year-old compared this squad to the one which reached great heights in the 1993 Davis Cup.
“There isn't much difference between this team and the 1993 team which got to the World Group semifinals. The unity in the 1993 team, and the unity that is coming back now will take us to the World Group.”
“Indian tennis has gone through a lot, I think it will take a year for things to calm down. Don’t forget that it’s our dream to win the Davis Cup, that’s what all of us play for.
“We all have to come together and make things work. We must do what we do best — play tennis,” Paes said.
India’s non-playing captain, S.P. Misra, stated that Somdev Devvarman is likely to be replaced with Sanam Singh in Sunday’s dead rubber.
Yuki Bhambri will play the second match of the day, Misra said. Before the start of the match, the ITF, which is celebrating its centenary year, honoured four Indian tennis stars — Anand Amritraj, Ramesh Krishnan, Ramanathan Krishnan and Mahesh Bhupathi — with the ‘Davis Cup Commitment Award.’
The players were presented with a ‘Mysore Peta’ by Yashwanth Sinha, the Lifetime President, AITA. Misra and Paes — two more stalwarts — were honoured by the AITA and the KSLTA.
The ITF criteria for the award — the player must have played a minimum of 20 ties — is met by a total of eight Indians.
The other four (which includes Leander Paes), will receive their awards at a later date.