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Rediff.com  » Sports » Paes puts team before history

Paes puts team before history

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May 01, 2005 17:22 IST

Davis Cup captain Leander Paes reaffirmed that he had not given up on playing singles yet, and that he had in sight the records as well.

Paes has the most overall wins in contemporary tennis in Davis Cup and his 74-30 win-loss record after the doubles win against Uzbekistan on Saturday put him on par with Brazilian Tomas Koch.

One more win would have catapulted him above Koch to the eighth place in the all time list, but the Indian captain nominated Harsh Mankad to play the last reverse singles.

Mankad went on to post a comfortable win as India whitewashed Uzbekistan 5-0 in the Asia Oceania Group 1 second round tie at the Jai Club courts.

Paes, 31, who declared that rewriting history books was one of his goals after the first day of the tie, said as a player he had the record in his mind but had to put responsibility as captain ahead of it.

"Two days ago everyone was asking if I should play singles at all, last evening they were telling me I better play the singles. It was quite a turn around," he said.

"There are two ways to look at it. One, to be selfish and go for the records... I have my homework done and know how many matches I have to play to get to the top five (in Davis Cup wins). I am going to be here for another two-three years, as long as I am fit to play I will play."

"The other way of looking at is to keep the morale of the team high. Harsh has been playing very good tennis for the last two-three months, and it is my job to let him know that the captain has the belief and faith in him.

"He will know today that as long as he is the best man for the job, he is going to play," Paes said.

"These boys are now grown up men and mature to handle things in life. My job is to make them play to their potential."

Paes said now that India were one match away from entering the World Group next year, he was doing his preparation for singles matches.

"My doubles partner (on ATP Tour) Nenad Zimonjic is a singles player, and I do train playing singles with him. We put in three hours of work out every day, and my work ethic on the Tour is excellent," he said.

"I am myself ready to play the singles, and I am going to push these two guys (Amritraj and Mankad)."

Paes said the team has come up well particularly after the second round loss against Japan last year.

"Coming against Japan, this team was not a team. There were lots of chinks. Now each individual knows his place in the team, that he has an important role to play, Paes said.

"We may not have a top-10 player but it doesn't bother me, as long as the boys perform as well as they did here."

India's opponent in the play-off in September will be one of the eight first round losers from the World Group. There are high prospects for India to draw a home tie as five of those team they had play away last time they met.

The venue for a face off with Spain, who they have not played before, will be decided by toss of the coin, while the other two -- Sweden and Chile -- will be away matches.

"I dread (playing) Chile in Chile," Paes said of the South American team that comprises Athens Olympics singles and doubles gold medallists.

Paes said India now had the nucleus that could take it to the World Group team in the coming years.

"The way I look at it, we have three solid singles players. We have to get better with singles play," he said.

"Whenever a boy comes into a Davis Cup tie, he leaves as a better player. That is how I got better, and definitely these two (Amritraj and Mankad) will also get better," he said.

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