Paes makes light of disparity in rankings
Country's highest ranked singles player Rohan Bopanna trails his Japanese counterpart by more than 200 rungs but India's Davis Cup captain Leander Paes is confident the hosts will put up a brave fight in the upcoming Asia-Oceania Group-I tie starting in New Delhi on April 11.
Having beaten umpteen higher ranked players in his illustrious Davis Cup career himself, Paes did not read too much into the superior rankings of the Japanese and hinted it would count for little when the tie starts.
"It's different playing in the Davis Cup ties. It takes to be a super athlete to perform in the Davis Cup," Paes told reporters after the practice session at the National Sports Club of India in New Delhi.
Paes joined the camp on Tuesday and partnered left-handed Divij Sharan in a long practice session with Rohan Bopanna and national champion Ashutosh Singh across the court.
The skipper expressed satisfaction at his own fitness level and was not worried about Bopanna's knee injury either.
"The last four weeks have been good on the (ATP) Tour. I am feeling great. No problem with my ankle, no strappings and there is no second thoughts on playing on grass as well as far as my movement is concerned," Paes said.
On Bopanna, he said, "He looks good and is working hard. We have the full support staff taking care of everything," he
Happy with Tuesday's parctice session, Paes said, "It's going well. I am happy all the boys are practising hard. We had a couple of sets of doubles practice as well as singles."
The rift between Paes and his team-mates seemed to have been put behind with Bopanna seen exchanging smiles with his captain during the session, which was also witnessed by AITA president Yashwant Sinha.
Paes addressed the media after AITA officials denied access to the team, which irked the waiting journalists. As several requests met deaf ears, with team's media manager -- Col Ranbir Chauhan -- telling scribes that players want to concentrate on just the practice session, the waiting media crew questioned the gag order.
Even a senior journalist called AITA general secretary Anil Khanna to ask if the game's governing body had directed the players not to speak to the media.
Finally, Paes decided to talk to the media even as team manager S P Mishra requested the reporters to keep it short.