The arm injuries that have been dogging Leander Paes for over a month now mushroomed into debilitating pain during his US Open men’s doubles final on Sunday night.
It is quite apparent that India will be unable to tap the services of its legendary Davis Cup player for the World Group play-off against South Africa scheduled for Johannesburg, end of the week.
“I will be consulting my doctor later in the day before I take a final call on this. I don’t want to miss the tie but as of now the pain is terrible,” said Paes when asked about whether he saw himself getting fit in time to take on South Africa.
The shoulder and elbow pain has cropped up on account of a sore wrist that Paes has been sporting for some time now.
“These are compensatory injuries as he has been putting extraordinary strain on the other joints in order to nurse the wrist,” his father and personal physician Dr. Vece Paes told HT from Johannesburg.
The senior Paes is part of the Davis Cup team’s support staff. Somdev Devvarman and Rohan Bopanna have already reached while Yuki Bhambri is expected to reach on Tuesday.
While Paes is trying to be optimistic, just a simple analysis of Sunday’s match makes it clear that the 36-year-old is struggling out on court.
For starters, he could barely serve. While the usual pace of his first serve hovers in the 115 mph range, in the final it could barely rise up to 90. While he is not the hardest of servers, the away-going slice and the kicking second serve are regulars in his arsenal.
Few of those were unleashed with their usual venom on Sunday.
Paes hardly hit any smacking topspin shots and relied more on placement with his chips and slice. When asked about that he said: “I couldn’t accelerate into any shot. I was not able to extend my arm.”
Paes played a string of matches for his club Washington Kastles in the World Team Tennis Championship in July instead of taking his usual post-Wimbledon break.
The constant grind appears to have taken its toll, as that’s when he had a series of MRI’s to figure out just why his right wrist was hurting.
A half-fit Paes anyway makes no sense, as Bhupathi and Bopanna will also be a mean doubles combination.
But India’s chances will dim as Bopanna may well be expected to shoulder the burden of both singles and doubles.
Paes’ unavailability will translate into Bhambri making his Cup debut.